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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Where did Afghanistan’s new Taliban leaders go to school?

AKORA HUTTAK, Pakistan – The Taliban have invaded Afghanistan and this school couldn’t be more proud.

Darul Ulum Haqkaniya Madrasah, one of Pakistan’s largest and oldest seminaries, has trained more Taliban leaders than any school in the world. Its graduates now hold key positions in Afghanistan.

Critics of the school call it the university of jihad and accuse it of fostering violence across the region for decades. And they are concerned that extremist madrassas and associated Islamist parties could be emboldened by a Taliban victory, potentially fueling further radicalism in Pakistan, despite the country’s efforts to tighten state control over more than 30,000 seminaries.

The school says it has changed and argues that the Taliban should be given a chance to show that they have gone beyond their bloody paths since they first ruled Afghanistan two decades ago.

“The world saw their ability to rule the country through their victories both on the diplomatic front and on the battlefield,” said Rashidul Haq Sami, vice chancellor of the seminary.

A Taliban softening is far from guaranteed, given the surge in violence earlier this year, reports of domestic repressive killings, restrictions on girls’ attendance at school and the crackdown on free speech. But Mr. Sami argued that the Taliban’s takeover of power could have been even bloodier, making it clear that they “will not repeat the mistakes of the 1990s.”

Darul Ulum Hakkaniya, located about 60 miles from the Afghan border, made a huge impact there. Seminary alumni founded the Taliban and ruled Afghanistan in the 1990s. Experts say Pakistan’s powerful armed forces often use their leaders to influence the Taliban.

His late Chancellor Samiul Haq, who was killed at his residence in Islamabad in 2018 and was the father of Mr. Sami, was known as the “father of the Taliban.”

“As the alma mater of many Taliban leaders, Hakkaniya certainly commands their respect,” said Azmat Abbas, author of Madrassah Mirage: A Contemporary History of Islamic Schools in Pakistan.

Sirajuddin Haqqani, 41, who led most of the Taliban’s war effort and received a $ 5 million bounty from the US government on his head, is Afghanistan’s new acting interior minister and graduate. Amir Khan Muttaki, new foreign minister, and Abdul Baki Haqqani, minister of higher education.

According to school administrators, the Minister of Justice, the head of the Afghan Ministry of Water and Energy, as well as a number of governors, military leaders and judges have also passed through the Haqkaniya Seminary.

“We are proud that our students in Afghanistan first destroyed the Soviet Union and now sent things to the United States,” said Mr Sami. “It is a great honor for the madrasah that its alumni are now ministers and hold high positions in the Taliban government.”

Many alumni take the Haqqani name as a symbol of pride. The Haqqani Network – the Taliban’s military wing responsible for taking Americans hostage, sophisticated suicide attacks and targeted assassinations – is named after the madrasah and maintains ties there.

More than 4,000 students, mostly from poor families, attend the sprawling seminary, a collection of high-rise concrete buildings in a small coastal town east of Peshawar. Courses range from memorizing the Quran to Arabic literature.

During a recent visit, the scholar gave a lecture on Islamic law in a crowded room with 1,500 undergraduates. They giggled at the jokes of one instructor. Other students lined up for lunch and played volleyball or cricket.

Among them, the Taliban’s victory is a source of great pride.

“The Taliban finally defeated the US after nearly 20 years of fighting, and the whole world accepts this fact,” said Abdul Wali, a 21-year-old student. “It also shows the foresight and commitment of our teachers and former alumni to Afghanistan.”

Mr. Wali praised Hakkaniya as the best place to memorize the Quran, which some Muslims believe will lead them and their families to paradise. “Haqqania is one of the few prestigious madrasahs in the country where students consider it an honor to study because of its history, outstanding scholars teaching there and quality Islamic education,” he said.

Pakistan has long had a difficult relationship with madrassas like Hakkania. Leaders who once viewed seminaries as a way to influence events in Afghanistan now see them as a source of conflict within Pakistan. The country has its own Taliban, the Pakistani Taliban or TTP, which has been responsible for many violent attacks in recent years. Both sides reached a ceasefire this month.

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New signs of radicalism have emerged in madrasahs, especially since the fall of Kabul. Students held rallies in support of the Taliban. At the Red Mosque in Islamabad, where security personnel carried out a fatal raid 14 years ago, Taliban flags were hoisted over a nearby women’s madrassa.

Meanwhile, the usefulness of madrassas has declined as Pakistani officials have recently become more involved in Afghan affairs, said Muhammad Israr Madani, an Islamabad-based religious scholar.

Against this backdrop of pressure, the Pakistani government has tried to combine financial support and behind-the-scenes efforts to reduce radicalism in seminaries.

The government of Prime Minister Imran Khan allocated $ 1.6 million to the Hakkaniya Seminary in 2018 and $ 1.7 million in 2017 to “implement” it. These funds helped build a new building, a badminton court and a computer lab, among other projects.

Haqqania has expanded its curriculum to include English, mathematics and computer science. It requires full documentation from international students, including those from Afghanistan, and administrators have said they have adopted a zero-tolerance policy for anti-state activities.

Education experts in Pakistan say these efforts have been successful and that Haqqania does not support the belligerence it once did.

Nevertheless, according to them, a narrow interpretation of Islam is taught in such madrassas. Lessons focus on how to argue with opposing beliefs rather than critical thinking and emphasize the need for practices such as punishing theft by amputation and sex outside of marriage by stoning. This makes some of their students vulnerable to militant recruitment.

“Given the widespread support of the Taliban from both the government and society, it would be naive to hope that madrassas and other educational institutions will adopt a different approach to teaching than the pro-Taliban,” said Mr. Abbas. Author.

A school’s curriculum may be less influential than individual teachers.

“When a madrassa student becomes involved in an act of violence, the broader approach is to place responsibility for the patient on the madrassa system and curriculum, and ignore the teacher or teachers who influenced the student,” said Mr Abbas. …

Graduates who studied in Hakkania in the 1980s and 1990s said they received no military training. Some, however, said that teachers often openly discussed jihad and urged students to join the insurgents in Afghanistan. One named Ali said that students could easily travel to Afghanistan to fight during their seminary holidays. He demanded that only his last name be used, citing security concerns.

Sami, the vice chancellor, said the students were not trained in combat and were not required to fight in Afghanistan.

School officials have cited recent statements by some groups in Afghanistan as moderate reflections. After the Taliban took over Kabul, the Islamic Sami Party, Jamiat-e-Ulema, founded by Mr. Sami’s father, called on them to ensure the safety of Afghans and foreigners, especially diplomats, protect the rights of religious and ethnic minorities, and allow access for women. to higher education.

In any case, Sami said, the world has no choice but to trust the Taliban’s ability to rule.

“I advise the international community to empower the Taliban to rule the country,” he said. “If they are not allowed to work, there will be another civil war in Afghanistan that will affect the entire region.”

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
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