Pakistan Madrasa Taught Afghanistan’s Taliban Leaders


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

Darul Uloom Haqqania madrasa, certainly one of Pakistan’s largest and oldest seminaries, has educated extra Taliban leaders than any college on this planet. 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 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 deliver greater than 30,000 seminaries beneath higher authorities management.

The college says it has modified and has argued that the Taliban needs to 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 country through their victories on both the diplomatic front 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 12 months, studies of reprisal killings contained in the nation, limits on ladies going to highschool and clampdowns on free expression. But Mr. Sami argued that the Taliban takeover might have been even bloodier, signaling that they “would not repeat the mistakes of the 1990s.”

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 Nineteen 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 referred to as the “Father of the Taliban.”

“Being the alma mater of scores of Taliban leaders, Haqqania certainly commands their respect,” mentioned Azmat Abbas, writer of “Madrasa Mirage: A Contemporary History of Islamic Schools 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 way of the Haqqania seminary, college directors say.

“We feel proud that our students in Afghanistan had first broken the Soviet Union and now sent the U.S. packing,” Mr. Sami mentioned. “It is an honor for the madrasa that its graduates are now ministers and hold high positions in the Taliban government.”

Many of the alumni undertake the identify Haqqani as a logo of pleasure. The Haqqani Network — the Taliban’s navy wing, liable for hostage taking of Americans, advanced suicide assaults and focused assassinations — is known as after the madrasa and retains connections there.

More than 4,000 college students, principally from poor households, attend the sprawling seminary, a set of multistory concrete buildings in a small, riverside city simply east of town of Peshawar. Courses 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. Other college students lined up outdoors for lunch and performed volleyball or cricket.

Among them, the Taliban victory is a supply of nice pleasure.

“The Taliban have finally defeated the U.S. after struggling for almost 20 years, and the entire world accepts this fact,” mentioned Abdul Wali, a 21-year-old pupil. “It also shows the farsightedness and commitment of our teachers and former alumni about Afghanistan.”

Mr. Wali praised Haqqania as a premier place to memorize the Quran, which some Muslims consider will get them and their households into heaven. “Haqqania is one of the few prestigious madrasas in the country where students consider studying an honor because of its history, the prominent scholars teaching there and its quality Islamic education,” he mentioned.

Pakistan has lengthy had an uneasy relationship with madrasas like Haqqania. Leaders who as soon as noticed the seminaries as a technique 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 liable for a slew of violent assaults lately. The two sides reached a cease-fire this month.

Renewed indicators of radicalism in madrasas have appeared, particularly since Kabul’s fall. Students have held pro-Taliban rallies. At the Red Mosque in Islamabad, the location of a lethal raid by safety personnel 14 years in the past, Taliban flags have been raised above a ladies’ madrasa subsequent door.

Meanwhile, 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 non secular affairs.

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

The authorities 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 court docket 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.

Experts 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.

Still, they mentioned, such madrasas train a slim interpretation of Islam. Lessons concentrate on find out how to argue with opposing faiths quite than important considering, and stress enforcement of practices like punishing theft with amputation and intercourse outdoors marriage with stoning. That makes a few of their college students weak to recruitment from militant teams.

“In an environment of widespread support for the Taliban, both with the government and society, it would be naïve to hope that madrasas and other mainstream educational institutions would adopt a teaching approach other than a pro-Taliban one,” mentioned Mr. Abbas, the writer.

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

“Whenever a madrasa student is found engaged in an act of violence, the wider approach is to hold the madrasa system and its syllabus responsible for the ill and no attention is paid to the teacher or teachers who influenced the student,” Mr. Abbas mentioned.

Graduates who had studied at Haqqania in Eighties and Nineteen Nineties mentioned they didn’t obtain any navy coaching. Some, nonetheless, mentioned lecturers usually mentioned jihad brazenly and inspired college students to hitch Afghanistan’s insurgency. One, named Ali, mentioned college students might simply slip into Afghanistan to struggle throughout seminary holidays. He requested that solely his final identify be used, citing safety issues.

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

School 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 occasion, 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 ladies entry to increased schooling.

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

“I advise the international community to give a chance to the Taliban to run the country,” he mentioned. “If they are not allowed to work, there will be a new civil war in Afghanistan and it will affect the entire region.”