Is Imran Khan endorsing and financing an institution that officially supports the Afghan Taliban?

Published: June 23, 2016

Maulana Sami ul Haq is a Pakistani religious scholar and a politician. He is regarded as the "Father of the Taliban" and had close ties to Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar Photo: Justin Sutcliffe/Telegraph

For those as yet unaware of the legend, Darul Uloom Haqqania is a large religious seminary located in Akora Khattak in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P). It was founded in 1947 by Maulana Abdul Haq, a prominent scholar of Hadith who had trained at the Darul Uloom Deoband, the centre of Deobandi Islam in undivided India. It remained, till the start of the Afghan-Soviet war, a somewhat respectable institution that stayed away from politics and controversy.

The students and administration of the seminary even played an important role in ensuring security and safety for the engineers and labour crews of the massive Karakoram Highway project. Following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 Maulana Abdul Haq declared fighting the Soviets a compulsory duty for all Muslims. At this point a heavy emphasis on holy war was incorporated into the teachings of the institution which continues to this day. Darul Uloom Haqqania is currently presided over by Maulana Abdul Haq’s son, Maulana Samiul Haq who is a diehard supporter of the Afghan Taliban.

The seminary has some rather illustrious alumni. Among these are:

Mullah Akhtar Mansoor: Erstwhile leader of the Afghan Taliban who was killed by an American missile strike last month.

– Asim Umar: Shadowy leader of al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan appointed by no less than al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri himself.

– Jalaluddin Haqqani: Feared leader of the Haqqani group and one of the most wanted men in the world.

– Mullah Omar: Founding father of the Taliban who died in 2014. He attended the Madrasah only briefly but was awarded an ‘honorary degree’ much later due to the seminary’s full confidence in his moral uprightness and scholarly abilities.

Not once has the madrassah distanced itself from any of these individuals and continues, from most reports, to contribute large number of ‘graduates’ to the cadres of the Afghan Taliban and other extremist groups. As recently as 2013 Maulana Samiul Haq stated in an interview with Reuters that Mullah Omar is “an angel-like human being” and that the Taliban should be allowed to fight for the “freedom of Afghanistan”.

Now coming to the point of my preamble about the Darul Uloom Haqqania – and this is where things get very interesting. Last Thursday, Provincial Minister Shah Farman informed the K-P Assembly that Darul Uloom Haqqania has been allocated Rs300 million from the state budget. The monies will be disbursed over two budgetary years to the seminary. He observed that past governments had never delivered on the promise to provide religious seminaries with funding from the provincial budget which this government was finally delivering on.

What, for the love of God, is going on? What achievements, what contribution to the country is Darul Uloom Haqqania being rewarded for? Is the K-P government actively endorsing and financing an institution that, as yet, officially supports the Afghan Taliban and has had many well know terrorist leaders in its ranks? This is a very unfortunate, and in all honesty, perilous state of affairs. Terrorism has weakened our nation from within like nothing else in our history. Extremism continues to be on the rise as evidenced by the unrelenting spate of sectarian violence and the targeting of minorities which continues with unperturbed, savage impunity. Yet here we are, giving Rs300 million to a madrassah with well-known ties to terrorist organisations and widely known to contribute to the rank and file of the Afghan Taliban.

Here’s the thing; we will not be able to make an iota of difference to the scourge of terrorism and other manifestations of extremism till religious seminaries remain beyond the precinct of proper civilian law. This lack of oversight is unacceptable to begin with but takes on a more treacherous dimension when one takes into account the harm done to Pakistan by the extremism that these institutions have helped breed.

Imran Khan defended the grant to Darul Uloom Haqqania in an interview on Wednesday stating that this was going to bring seminaries into the “mainstream” and “keep them away from radicalisation”. I am sorry Khan Sahib, without a clear cut agenda or legislation that delineates how Madaris are going to be regulated and prevented from being incubators of radicalisation that is not going to cut it. By all accounts, attending Darul Uloom Haqqania has led to youth being radicalised and you want us to believe it will keep them away? What manner of denial is this? How distant are you from the reality of Pakistan and this world-renowned seminary of Akora Khattak?

I appeal to K-P Chief Minister Pervez Khattak and Chairman PTI Imran Khan to immediately revoke the allocation of money to Darul Uloom Haqqania. I would further request them to set an example for the rest of the country by bringing every madrassah in K-P under the jurisdiction of the Board of Education.

Affronts like these to the intelligence and misery of the people of Pakistan must cease. Religious schools must be regulated and any material preaching hatred against other sects and religions as well as glorifying bloodshed must be banned. The 2-3 million students attending seminaries must be taught curricula meeting at the very least the national standard for Matriculate and Intermediate graduates. The purpose of education is to produce a capable workforce and the leaders, scientists and visionaries of tomorrow. Pakistan’s Madaris have instead become an assembly line for inadequately educated and unskilled individuals unable to contribute meaningfully to the nation’s future and predisposed to bigotry and violence. Our children deserve better.

Khusro Tariq

Khusro Tariq

The author is a Pakistani-American Psychiatrist currently pursuing training in Jungian psychoanalysis. He blogs on Huffington Post on matters of psychology, faith, politics and poetry. He tweets as @KhwajaKhusro (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • lkhan

    Khusro Tariq, thank you for a well researched blog on the seminary that IK’s government is foolishly supporting financially. It is indeed shameful that government monies be allocated to extremist bigots, especially given the dire lack of funds in public schools. IK at times like this shows his true leanings, after all he is also known as Taliban Khan. Shame on him and those who back such narrow minded, mad views. Their ignorance is dangerous for existentialism. One good reason not to vote for PTI.Recommend

  • Eddied

    Bravo for this timely article that identifies potential State sponsoring of terrorism…The Taliban and their supporters are The Enemy?…why are you helpng them?…when will you wake up to reality?Recommend

  • Juan

    This isn’t news. IK has always had a soft spot for the Taliban, both Afghan and Pak versions, but he’s hardly alone. Everyone knows Sami-Ul-Haq’s linked to known militants and considered the ‘father of the Taliban’, yet has been allowed to be active in mainstream Pakistani society and politics despite his extremist views, like forever. He’s never been touched by previous/current govts and the army because he’s considered a patriot and a strategic asset and even utilized in talks between Pak and the Pakistani Taliban.

    Edit: Sami-ul-Haq, isn’t just untouched, but outright embraced by civilian and military state officials and the media, as pictures online can testify.Recommend

  • Saleem

    Imran Khan defended the grant to Darul Uloom Haqqania in an interview on Wednesday stating that this was going to bring seminaries into the “mainstream” and “keep them away from radicalisation”

    Will clueless Khan be able to change curriculum of Darul Uloom Haqqania, and if not then what he is saying is preposterous.Recommend

  • ingeborg Malik

    Is anyone listening??I fear not,till it is too late.Recommend

  • Rafidi

    Madaris are places of learning and any allocation to them will give a sense of belonging to the students. As far as regulating madrasas is concerned I agree with you.Recommend

  • astonished2010

    Its worst. He is justifying these as ‘Good Taliban’. In his mind the biggest achievement of these folks is that they did not kill polio workers. They simply spread hate, bigotry, and violence for others to carry out the dirty work.Recommend

  • siesmann

    IK is not called Taliban Khan for nothing.Now he will also get the honorary degree from the Oxford of terrorism.Recommend

  • Farhan

    Most of the things you said are already what Imran khan said! To bring seminaries under some sort of oversight! This grant which is for 18 such seminaries is a start of this project! It will take decades not a day to do that!

    This is a wonderful start! As for Taliban, Nawaz Sharif was at time financed by Osama Bin Landen. But no one cares since Punjabi’s are exempt from any oversight!Recommend

  • Keyboard Soldier

    First it was the army that ruled Pakistan. Now that power has been nearly taken away from them by Wahhabi and Deobandi molvhis.Recommend

  • siesmann

    The $3 million grant is more than the annual budget of the National Counter Terrorism Authority, charged with coordinating Pakistan’s drive against violent extremism.-WAll st jour
    So how is NAP going to be successful?Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    No suprises here from Khan Sahib, since he has NEVER ONCE used the words “Terrorists” and “Taliban” in the same sentence!Recommend

  • patriot

    I totally endorse the views of this individual. PTI and imran khan seems to be loosing it and many a staunch followers are beginning to feel disenchanted by their absurd policies!Recommend

  • Ze-yom-Durrani

    The whole world is urging Pakistan to give up on idea of good Taliban and bad Taliban and the idea of the good assets but Pakistani politicians need to borrow ear cause theirs has technical problem and can’t hear.Recommend

  • Samir

    what more can u expect from Pak just wants promote terrorism and later they claim that we are victims of terrorism..wat a joke .!Recommend

  • Pakistani

    This is a deal may be successful is what khan sb may be thinking on the other hand how successful are we while fighting with them over a decade.Recommend

  • Jayman

    So Imran Khan supports the Taliban. What else is new? Few will disagree with the fact that there is no such thing as a ‘moderate’ Muslim.Recommend

  • siesmann

    Yes, sense of belonging to the terrorist network.Recommend

  • khanuu

    our children deserve better, and whats your definition of better, being in a school system, so you can have sex before you are 15 and you can speak english?Recommend

  • Rohan

    It’s not a big thing, Pakistan has supported terrorism from its date of birthRecommend

  • Parvez

    Bribing criminals ……… bad idea.Recommend

  • Subhan Ahmad

    Things are not differnet across the globe. There elements that think of us in the same way that we think of our people in madrassah. We are the Donald Trump for these medressahs.

    Lack of opportunity pushes one to extremism. It is the right move by IK. Giving chance to peace. What have america achieved in Afghanistan after 15 years of war ? If you have given 15 years to bloodshed then why not allocate some years to policies that will put an end to this bloodshed? IK said there are 22 million poverty striken students studying there. How many of us think about them in our daily lives? Problem is in us for being willfully blind. I support this move to full extent.Recommend

  • Srinivasulu Mekala

    PTI is the only untested political party at the federal level which has prospects of contributing a Prime Ministerial candidate. There was a hope that IK as a Prime Minister could be altogether a different material, now that hope is dashed. In the foreseeable future, there is no living politician who could steer Pakistan clear of all its woes. The fate of Pakistan is now unalterable, with this state funding of Jihad University.Recommend

  • Pallav

    Imran Khan himself goes to Oxford, plays the Gentleman’s Game in his youth, cavorts and gallavants with western beauties to his heart’s wish and then when he gets old and tired, he funds some Talibani madaaris. How simple can things get? Those who justify that his motive is true are kidding themselves. Khan is following the traditional hypocritic politics that is the credo of all politicians in the subcontinent- Pakistani or Indian. You or your kids should study in the Etons, Harrows, Oxfords and Cambridges of the world. For your constituents, it has to be the Haqqanias.Recommend

  • Khwaja Khusro Tariq

    Not really. Just some mastery of science and economics or at the least some technical labor skills. So they can have a future other than Jihad Inc.Recommend

  • Kasturi K

    Well, Ik’s govt of PTI in kpk has given ‘bhatta’ to darulalum Haqqania. What else do you expect from IK?Recommend

  • ahmed

    What the World needs right now are more qawals or schools that sufi singers or english medium schools not the mullahs and not their terror producing seminaries…IK as usual is well meaning fool who thinks he is going to reform MH. These Madaras get billions from corrupt Arab monarch to spread the hatred and sectarianism in Pakistan. If MH or any other madarasah teaches modern education by all means funds them but don’t send 1000 truck loads of rupees because they didn’t kill all the polio workers…yes that effort is commendable from blood hounds but still doesn’t deserve this grant for killing more children in Pakistan or Afghanistan even though Afghans do deserve a kick in the head.Recommend

  • siesmann

    22 million potential terrorists.God save the world !!Recommend

  • Musa Khan

    I will just ask a question to the writer of this column. Whether you pray at home or in Masjid? If in Masjid, ask your Molvi where has he studied the Islamic teachings. There is about 70% of probability that he will answer from Darul Uloom Haqqania. If not tell him where did his teacher studied Islamic teachings. Then you will never question about contributions Haqqania made to Pakistan. Darul uloom Haqqania is the fountain of Islamic teachings in Pakistan and this fact cannot be denied. I am from Akora Khattak and I have been to convocation (Dastaar Bandi) in Haqqania. More 10000 students get their graduation from there everywhere. In 10 years this becomes 100000. Are there 100000 terrorists in Pakistan?Recommend

  • Mike Pilgrim

    Imran Khan is completely incompetent. The voters who think a cricket player has the education and experience to run a country shows the low level of intelligence of his supporters. Imran Khan’s contribution is financial damage to Pakistan with undemocratic terrorist demonstrations when he is rejected by voters in the election. Imran Khan cares more about seeing his face on TV than he cares about Pakistan.Recommend

  • bik

    Pathetic article. If these are bad people then why Pakistan army and Federal Gov’t not gone after them? The problem in Pakistan is not merely these extreme left right wing people but equally the so called left wing people. Both have their brains completely closed. Recommend

  • Hammurabi

    Al the religions teach good acts.Putting women in shuttle cock burqa is not a humane act.Islam is a flexible religion which teaches us to act according to situation not rigidly follow things.Recommend

  • brar

    So you are repenting why only few of them became terrorists
    why not 1000000 all the so called graduates of this famous university are there in all Masjids all over Pakistan did they preach tolerance and love or hate for other faiths,you know very well ?? IRecommend

  • Safar Shah

    PTI Imran Khan is the political wing of Taliban.. well known FACT.Recommend