Pakistani ‘Father of Taliban’ keeps watch over loyal disciples

Source: Wasim Sr via Mobile Reuters Com:

By Maria Golovnina and Sheree Sardar

AKORA KHATTAK, Pakistan (Reuters) – He is known as the Father of the Taliban, a radical Pakistani cleric who calls the Taliban’s one-eyed leader an “angel” and runs a seminary described as the University of Jihad.

Bespectacled and soft-spoken, Maulana Sami ul-Haq is a revered figure in Pakistan and Afghanistan whose views carry enormous weight among the Taliban on both sides of the border.

Tucked away in a dusty Pakistani town off the main motorway to the Afghan border, his Darul Uloom Haqqania university was the launching pad for the Taliban movement in the 1990s and is still often described as the incubator for radical Islamists.

Speaking to Reuters at the sprawling campus near his native town of Akora Khattak, Haq did little to hide his sympathies for the Taliban, a word meaning “students” in Pashto. He said he was sure the Taliban would soon sweep back to power in Afghanistan.

“Give them just one year and they will make the whole of Afghanistan happy,” Haq said. “The whole of Afghanistan will be with them … Once the Americans leave, all of this will happen within a year.”

Despite Haq’s openly pro-Taliban views and connections, his seminary is recognized officially in Pakistan – a symptom of Islamabad’s long-running duality over the Taliban issue.

Haq would not talk about this publicly but he is believed to be close to the Pakistani security forces – a legacy of an era when Pakistan sponsored movements and supported militants, including Osama bin Laden, fighting Soviet troops in Afghanistan.

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Categories: Asia, Pakistan

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