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Thursday, December 9, 2021

Pakistan Madrasa Taught Afghanistan’s Taliban Leaders

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AKORA KHATTAK, Pakistan — The Taliban have seized Afghanistan, and this college couldn’t be prouder.

Darul Uloom Haqqania madrasa, considered one of Pakistan’s largest and oldest seminaries, has educated extra Taliban leaders than any college on the earth. Now its alumni maintain key positions in Afghanistan.

The college’s critics name it a college of jihad and blame it for serving to to sow violence throughout the area for many years. And so they fear that extremist madrasas and the Islamist events linked to them might be emboldened by the Taliban’s victory, doubtlessly fueling additional radicalism in Pakistan regardless of that nation’s efforts to carry greater than 30,000 seminaries below higher authorities management.

The college says it has modified and has argued that the Taliban must be given the possibility to point out they’ve moved past their bloody methods since they first dominated Afghanistan twenty years in the past.

“The world has seen their capabilities to run the nation by their victories on each the diplomatic entrance and on the battlefield,” mentioned Rashidul Haq Sami, the seminary’s vice chancellor.

A Taliban softening is way from assured, given a surge of violence earlier this yr, experiences of reprisal killings contained in the nation, limits on women going to high school and clampdowns on free expression. However Mr. Sami argued that the Taliban takeover may have been even bloodier, signaling that they “wouldn’t repeat the errors of the Nineties.”

Darul Uloom Haqqania, about 60 miles from the Afghan border, has had an outsize impact there. The seminary’s alumni based the Taliban motion and dominated Afghanistan within the Nineties. Pakistan’s highly effective navy usually makes use of its leaders to affect the Taliban, specialists say.

Its late chancellor, Samiul Haq, who was murdered at his residence in Islamabad in 2018 and was Mr. Sami’s father, was often called the “Father of the Taliban.”

“Being the alma mater of scores of Taliban leaders, Haqqania definitely instructions their respect,” mentioned Azmat Abbas, creator of “Madrasa Mirage: A Modern Historical past of Islamic Colleges in Pakistan.”

Sirajuddin Haqqani, 41, who led a lot of the Taliban’s navy efforts and carries a $5 million bounty from the American authorities on his head, is the brand new appearing inside minister of Afghanistan and an alumnus. So is Amir Khan Muttaqi, the brand new overseas minister, and Abdul Baqi Haqqani, the upper schooling minister.

The justice minister, the chief of the Afghan water and energy ministry and quite a lot of governors, navy commanders and judges additionally handed by the Haqqania seminary, college directors say.

“We really feel proud that our college students in Afghanistan had first damaged the Soviet Union and now despatched the U.S. packing,” Mr. Sami mentioned. “It’s an honor for the madrasa that its graduates are actually ministers and maintain excessive positions within the Taliban authorities.”

Most of the alumni undertake the title Haqqani as a logo of delight. The Haqqani Community — the Taliban’s navy wing, chargeable for hostage taking of Individuals, complicated suicide assaults and focused assassinations — is called after the madrasa and retains connections there.

Greater than 4,000 college students, principally from poor households, attend the sprawling seminary, a group of multistory concrete buildings in a small, riverside city simply east of the town of Peshawar. Programs vary from the memorization of the Quran to Arabic literature.

On a latest go to, a scholar delivered a lecture on Islamic jurisprudence to a packed corridor of 1,500 final-year college students. They burst into giggles at one teacher’s jokes. Different college students lined up exterior for lunch and performed volleyball or cricket.

Amongst them, the Taliban victory is a supply of nice delight.

“The Taliban have lastly defeated the U.S. after struggling for nearly 20 years, and your entire world accepts this truth,” mentioned Abdul Wali, a 21-year-old pupil. “It additionally exhibits the farsightedness and dedication of our lecturers and former alumni about Afghanistan.”

Mr. Wali praised Haqqania as a premier place to memorize the Quran, which some Muslims imagine will get them and their households into heaven. “Haqqania is likely one of the few prestigious madrasas within the nation the place college students contemplate learning an honor due to its historical past, the outstanding students educating there and its high quality Islamic schooling,” he mentioned.

Pakistan has lengthy had an uneasy relationship with madrasas like Haqqania. Leaders who as soon as noticed the seminaries as a method to affect occasions in Afghanistan now see them as a supply of battle inside Pakistan. The nation has its personal Taliban motion, the Pakistani Taliban, or T.T.P., which has been chargeable for a slew of violent assaults lately. The 2 sides reached a cease-fire this month.

Renewed indicators of radicalism in madrasas have appeared, particularly since Kabul’s fall. College students have held pro-Taliban rallies. On the Crimson Mosque in Islamabad, the positioning of a lethal raid by safety personnel 14 years in the past, Taliban flags have been raised above a women’ madrasa subsequent door.

In the meantime, the usefulness of the madrasas has declined as Pakistani officers have extra just lately taken a extra direct function in Afghanistan’s affairs, mentioned Muhammad Israr Madani, an Islamabad-based researcher specializing in spiritual affairs.

Amid these pressures, Pakistan’s authorities has tried a mixture of monetary assist and behind-the-scenes prodding to dial down radicalism inside the seminaries.

The federal government of Prime Minister Imran Khan gave the Haqqania seminary $1.6 million in 2018 and $1.7 million in 2017 for “mainstreaming” it. The funds helped the madrasa assemble a brand new constructing, a badminton courtroom and a pc lab, amongst different initiatives.

Haqqania has broadened its curriculum to incorporate English, math and laptop science. It calls for full documentation from overseas college students, together with these from Afghanistan, and directors mentioned it adopted a zero-tolerance coverage for anti-state actions.

Consultants on schooling in Pakistan say that the hassle has had some success and that Haqqania doesn’t advocate militancy prefer it as soon as did.

Nonetheless, they mentioned, such madrasas educate a slim interpretation of Islam. Classes give attention to the best way to argue with opposing faiths moderately than crucial pondering, and stress enforcement of practices like punishing theft with amputation and intercourse exterior marriage with stoning. That makes a few of their college students susceptible to recruitment from militant teams.

“In an atmosphere of widespread assist for the Taliban, each with the federal government and society, it could be naïve to hope that madrasas and different mainstream instructional establishments would undertake a educating strategy aside from a pro-Taliban one,” mentioned Mr. Abbas, the creator.

The college’s syllabus could also be much less influential than particular person instructors.

“Each time a madrasa pupil is discovered engaged in an act of violence, the broader strategy is to carry the madrasa system and its syllabus chargeable for the sick and no consideration is paid to the trainer or lecturers who influenced the scholar,” Mr. Abbas mentioned.

Graduates who had studied at Haqqania in Nineteen Eighties and Nineties mentioned they didn’t obtain any navy coaching. Some, nevertheless, mentioned lecturers usually mentioned jihad overtly and inspired college students to affix Afghanistan’s insurgency. One, named Ali, mentioned college students may simply slip into Afghanistan to combat throughout seminary holidays. He requested that solely his final title be used, citing safety considerations.

Mr. Sami, the vice chancellor, mentioned college students have been neither skilled for fight nor obliged to combat in Afghanistan.

Faculty directors level to latest statements by some teams in Afghanistan as reflective reasonable teachings. After the Taliban captured Kabul, the Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam-Sami get together, based by Mr. Sami’s father, urged them to make sure the security of Afghans and foreigners, notably diplomats, defend the rights of non secular and ethnic minorities and permit girls entry to greater schooling.

In any case, Mr. Sami mentioned, the world has little selection however to belief the Taliban’s potential to manipulate.

“I counsel the worldwide group to offer an opportunity to the Taliban to run the nation,” he mentioned. “If they aren’t allowed to work, there will probably be a brand new civil battle in Afghanistan and it’ll have an effect on your entire area.”

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