Sami ul-Haq

Maulana Sami ul-Haq was a Pakistani senator and religious scholar. He led the political party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) as well as its splinter group JUI-S and was the chancellor of the Darul Uloom Haqqania Islamic seminary until his death in 2018.Associated Press, “Pakistan's 'father of the Taliban' killed in knife attack,” Guardian (London), November 2, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/02/pakistan-maulana-samiul-haq-father-of-the-taliban-cleric-killed-in-knife-attack; William Dalrymple, “Inside the Madness,” New York Review of Books, December 1, 2005, https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2005/12/01/inside-the-madrasas/. Haq is known as “the father of the Taliban” due to the high number of Afghan and Pakistani Taliban leaders who studied at his seminary.Associated Press, “Pakistan's 'father of the Taliban' killed in knife attack,” Guardian (London), November 2, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/02/pakistan-maulana-samiul-haq-father-of-the-taliban-cleric-killed-in-knife-attack. In a 2005 interview, Haq claimed that his school would regularly provide the Taliban with fighters as needed.William Dalrymple, “Inside the Madness,” New York Review of Books, December 1, 2005, https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2005/12/01/inside-the-madrasas/. Haq served as a member of Pakistani President Muhammad Zia ul-Haq’s Majlis al-Shura from 1981 to 1985, before serving two terms in the country’s Senate, where he was known for pushing legislation enforcing sharia.International Crisis Group, Islamic Parties In Pakistan, Asia Report N°216, December 12, 2011, https://d2071andvip0wj.cloudfront.net/216%20Islamic%20Parties%20in%20Pakistan.pdf; “Maulana Sami-ul-Haq,” Senate of Pakistan, 2010, http://www.senate.gov.pk/en/profile.php?uid=755. On November 2, 2018, Haq was killed in a knife attack in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.“Pakistan's 'father of the Taliban' killed in knife attack,” Guardian (London), November 2, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/02/pakistan-maulana-samiul-haq-father-of-the-taliban-cleric-killed-in-knife-attack.

Several of the Taliban’s and Haqqani Network’s top leaders studied under Haq at Darul Uloom Haqqania, an Islamic religious seminary located in Akora Khattak, Pakistan, which is often simply referred to as Haqqania. Mullah Muhammad Omar, the founder of the Taliban, as well as Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor, another former emir of the Taliban, studied at Haqqania before leaving for Afghanistan to fight the Soviet Union in 1989.Maria Golovnina and Sheree Sardar, “Pakistani 'Father of Taliban' keeps watch over loyal disciples,” Reuters, September 15, 2013, https://news.yahoo.com/pakistani-father-taliban-keeps-watch-over-loyal-disciples-084932017.html; Rob Crilly and Ali M Latifi “Who is 'new Taliban leader' Mullah Akhtar Mansoor?,” Telegraph, July 30, 2015, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/afghanistan/11773559/Who-is-new-Taliban-leader-Mullah-Akhtar-Mansoor.html. Sirajuddin Haqqani, the current leader of the Haqqani Network and son of its deceased founder, also reportedly studied under Haq.“Pakistan's 'father of the Taliban' killed in knife attack,” Guardian (London), November 2, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/02/pakistan-maulana-samiul-haq-father-of-the-taliban-cleric-killed-in-knife-attack. The current commander of al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, Asim Umar, was another student under Haq.Asim Tanveer and Maria Golovnina, “Al Qaeda's shadowy new 'emir' in South Asia handed tough job,” Reuters, September 9, 2014, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-southasia-alqaeda-insight/al-qaedas-shadowy-new-emir-in-south-asia-handed-tough-job-idUSKBN0H42DN20140909.

Haqqania is considered one of the largest and most respected Islamic seminaries in South Asia, with approximately 4,000 students.Maria Golovnina and Sheree Sardar, “Pakistani 'Father of Taliban' keeps watch over loyal disciples,” Reuters, September 15, 2013, https://news.yahoo.com/pakistani-father-taliban-keeps-watch-over-loyal-disciples-084932017.html. Haq’s seminary teaches a hardline curriculum based on the Deobandi school of Sunni Islam. The Taliban and other extremist groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan subscribe to this fundamentalist sect of the religion.Maria Golovnina and Sheree Sardar, “Pakistani 'Father of Taliban' keeps watch over loyal disciples,” Reuters, September 15, 2013, https://news.yahoo.com/pakistani-father-taliban-keeps-watch-over-loyal-disciples-084932017.html. Haqqania became the source of much of the Taliban’s power and strength in the 1990s as the group was able to heavily draw on recruits and leaders at the seminary. Haq maintained an openly pro-Taliban stance during this time as chancellor, praising the Taliban’s founder and in 2013, stating “Give [the Taliban] just one year and they will make the whole of Afghanistan happy.”Maria Golovnina and Sheree Sardar, “Pakistani 'Father of Taliban' keeps watch over loyal disciples,” Reuters, September 15, 2013, https://news.yahoo.com/pakistani-father-taliban-keeps-watch-over-loyal-disciples-084932017.html. Nonetheless, he is believed to have had the support of the Pakistani security forces.Maria Golovnina and Sheree Sardar, “Pakistani 'Father of Taliban' keeps watch over loyal disciples,” Reuters, September 15, 2013, https://news.yahoo.com/pakistani-father-taliban-keeps-watch-over-loyal-disciples-084932017.html.

Haq was elected to the Senate of Pakistan in 1985 and re-elected in 1991. During his first term in office, Haq was considered a key supporter of the 1991 Shariat Bill.“Maulana Sami-ul-Haq,” Senate of Pakistan, 2010, http://www.senate.gov.pk/en/profile.php?uid=755. The bill declared sharia as the supreme law of Pakistan and made provisions for the “Islamization” of the education, economic, media, and social sectors.“ENFORCEMENT OF SHARI’AH ACT. 1991,” Pakistan Legislation, http://www.pakistani.org/pakistan/legislation/1991/actXof1991.html; “Act No X of 1991,” The Gazette of Pakistan, June 18, 1991, http://www.na.gov.pk/uploads/documents/1335242059_665.pdf. Prior to Haq’s election to the Senate, the founder of the political party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI), Maulana Mohammad Abdullah Darkhawsti, appointed Haq as the party’s emir.International Crisis Group, Islamic Parties In Pakistan, Asia Report N°216, December 12, 2011, https://d2071andvip0wj.cloudfront.net/216%20Islamic%20Parties%20in%20Pakistan.pdf. Following the party’s split in the mid-1980s, Haq led a faction known as JUI-S.International Crisis Group, Islamic Parties In Pakistan, Asia Report N°216, December 12, 2011, https://d2071andvip0wj.cloudfront.net/216%20Islamic%20Parties%20in%20Pakistan.pdf. The JUI-S supported jihad in Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion and since the ouster of the Taliban from Kabul in 2001.Taha Siddiqui, “Difa-e-Pakistan Part 1/2: Jihadis itch for resurgence,” Tribune Express, February 11, 2012, https://tribune.com.pk/story/334777/difa-e-pakistan-part-12-jihadis-itch-for-resurgence/; International Crisis Group, Islamic Parties In Pakistan, Asia Report N°216, December 12, 2011, https://d2071andvip0wj.cloudfront.net/216%20Islamic%20Parties%20in%20Pakistan.pdf. According to the International Crisis Group, the JUI-S maintains close ties to the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban.International Crisis Group, Islamic Parties In Pakistan, Asia Report N°216, December 12, 2011, https://d2071andvip0wj.cloudfront.net/216%20Islamic%20Parties%20in%20Pakistan.pdf.

As leader of JUI-S, Haq played a central role in passing anti-Ahmadi legislation in the 1980s. Ahmadiyya is an Islamic messianic movement with more than two million followers living in Pakistan.“Pakistan: The situation of Ahmadis, including legal status and political, education and employment rights; societal attitudes toward Ahmadis (2006 - Nov. 2008),” UNHCR, December 4, 2008, https://www.refworld.org/docid/49913b5f2c.html; International Crisis Group, Islamic Parties In Pakistan, Asia Report N°216, December 12, 2011, https://d2071andvip0wj.cloudfront.net/216%20Islamic%20Parties%20in%20Pakistan.pdf. Under Haq’s direction, Pakistan passed Ordinance XX in 1984, which bars Ahmadis from identifying themselves Muslims, practicing any aspects of the Islamic faith, and from using any Islamic texts in their prayers.International Crisis Group, Islamic Parties In Pakistan, Asia Report N°216, December 12, 2011, https://d2071andvip0wj.cloudfront.net/216%20Islamic%20Parties%20in%20Pakistan.pdf; “Government of Pakistan — Law for Ahmadis,” Gazette of Pakistan, April 26, 1984, http://www.thepersecution.org/50years/paklaw.html.

Haq was assassinated in his home in a knife attack on November 2, 2018. His murder was condemned by Pakistan’s President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan, the latter of which had spoken highly of Haq while campaigning during the 2018 general election. The provincial government where Haqqania is located also donated $2.5 million to the seminary in February 2018.“Pakistan's 'father of the Taliban' killed in knife attack,” Guardian (London), November 2, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/02/pakistan-maulana-samiul-haq-father-of-the-taliban-cleric-killed-in-knife-attack; Fred Bezhan, “'University Of Jihad' Gets Public Funds Even As Pakistan Fights Extremism,” Radio Free Europe, March 11, 2018, https://www.rferl.org/a/pakistan-jihad-university-haqqania-government-funding-haq-taliban-omar/29092748.html.

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