x

Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 15 November 2018

Killing of 'Father of the Taliban' remains a mystery in Pakistan

Haq ran a school favoured by Afghan mujahideen who went on to form the Taliban

Mourners gather at an Islamic seminary to see last glimpse of prominent Pakistani cleric Maulana Samiul Haq prior to funeral prayer at his hometown Akora Khattak, some 123 kilometers (77 miles) northwest of Islamabad, Pakistan, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018. Thousands of mourners have attended funeral of the prominent Pakistani cleric Haq, who was killed in a knife attack at his home in the garrison city of Rawalpindi. (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad)
Mourners gather at an Islamic seminary to see last glimpse of prominent Pakistani cleric Maulana Samiul Haq prior to funeral prayer at his hometown Akora Khattak, some 123 kilometers (77 miles) northwest of Islamabad, Pakistan, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018. Thousands of mourners have attended funeral of the prominent Pakistani cleric Haq, who was killed in a knife attack at his home in the garrison city of Rawalpindi. (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad)

Maulana Samiul Haq, the Pakistani religious scholar known as the “Father of the Taliban”, was buried in his home town of Nowshehra in north-west Pakistan on Saturday, a day after he was fatally stabbed at his residence in the northern city of Rawalpindi.

A large number of people including religious and political leaders were present as Haq was laid to rest beside his father, Maulana Abdul Haq, inside his seminary in the small town of Akora Khattak in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

The identity and motive of Haq's attacker are not clear. “The death remains mysterious and there is no claim of responsibility," Pakistan’s Information Minister Fawad Chaudhary said.

Born in December 1937, Haq ran the Darul Uloom Haqqania religious school attended by many Afghan mujahideen who fought the Soviet invasion and later formed the Taliban, including the group's late founder Mullah Omar.

He remained supportive of the group after the 2001 US-led invasion that toppled them from power, telling Reuters in a 2013 interview that peace in Afghanistan would not be possible until foreign troops left. “As long as they are there, Afghans will have to fight for their freedom,” he said.

Haq remained an influential figure whose views carried weight among Taliban fighters on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border. Just last month he was approached by Kabul government to act as a mediator in setting up peace talks between the Afghan Taliban.

In 2014 he was chosen to be one of the representatives of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) when Islamabad tried to hold peace talks with insurgent group. The attempt ultimately failed and the military launched a sweeping operation against the Pakistani Taliban after they attacked an army-run school in Peshawar in December 2014, killing more than 130 children.

Haq also guided former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf, the former army chief who held power from 1999 to 2008, on getting the best deal from Washington for co-operating with the US war on terror in Afghanistan.

The cleric opposed US drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas and in 2011 he helped form an alliance of more than 40 religious groups known as Defa-e-Pakistan, or Defence of Pakistan, headed by Haq which repeatedly pressured the government to cut off Nato's supply routes to its forces in Afghanistan but never succeeded.

_______________

Read more:

Pakistan at 'low point', Imran Khan tells China's Xi

The four delicate constituencies Imran Khan has to manage in order to achieve his goals

_______________

Haq was also active in Pakistani politics, serving several terms as a senator between 1985 and 1997 and later from 2003 to 2009, and maintained good relations with country's powerful security forces. He was the head of his own faction of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam political party. He was also the founding member of the Muttahida Majlis–e–Amal United Council of Action, an alliance of the religious parties founding in 1990s.

Haq resigned his government position in 1991 however after becoming embroiled in a sex scandal with a dancer.

Despite his links with radical insurgents, Haq was a supporter of the polio immunisation drive in Pakistan, one of only three countries where the disease is endemic, and issued an edict in support of the campaign in December 2013, at a time when militants were killing vaccination workers in north-west Pakistan.

His seminary, a sprawling campus covering several acres with more than 2,000 students was founded in 1947 by his father Maulana Abdul Haq, has received funding from the various governments. Haq leaves behind nine children from two marriages. His son Hamidul Haq, will succeed him as the seminary chief.