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Who Was Maulana Sami-ul-Haq?

Who Was Maulana Sami-ul-Haq?

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Authorities in Pakistan had been maintaining a close relationship with Haqqani network and Taliban through Sami-ul-Haq. After Taliban came to power in Afghanistan, as many as eight ministers in its cabinet had studied in Darul Uloom Haqqania. This gave Maulana Sami-ul-Haq a reputation of ‘father of Taliban’ or ‘Godfather’ of Taliban globally. Haq’s fame reached its peak when the Afghan Mujahidin were fighting a war against the Soviet Union.

Sumera B Reshi

Over the death of Moulana Sami ul Haq, one of a seminary student said that “Moulana was stabbed 16 times, we will make sure that we multiple his cause 16 million times.”

The killing of a prominent religious scholar and former Senator, Maulana Sami ul-Haq, 82, by unknown assailants came amid a spate of violent nationwide protests by Muslim groups angered at a ruling by Pakistan’s Supreme Court that acquitted a Christian woman, Asia Bibi on charges of blasphemy.

According to the details, Maulana Sami ul Haq left his house in the afternoon with his driver cum personal assistant Ahmed Shah Haqqani to attend the TLP protest, however, due to roads blockage in twin cities, he returned home.

His personal assistant left for the market in the evening when some unknown assailants barged into his house in Bahria Town Safari Villas and stabbed the scholar multiple times.

He succumbed to his wound while being taken to the hospital, his son Hamid ul Haq confirmed to the media.

Since the majority of the leadership of Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network including Siraj-ud-deen Haqqani and Mullah Omar had studied in his seminary, Maulana Sami-ul-Haq had enjoyed great influence over the Taliban.

Authorities in Pakistan had been maintaining a close relationship with Haqqani network and Taliban through Sami-ul-Haq. After Taliban came to power in Afghanistan, as many as eight ministers in its cabinet had studied in Darul Uloom Haqqania.

This gave Maulana Sami-ul-Haq a reputation of ‘father of Taliban’ or ‘Godfather’ of Taliban globally. Haq’s fame reached its peak when the Afghan Mujahidin were fighting a war against the Soviet Union.

Haq’s assassination at the time of chaos shocked Pakistani government as well as country’s powerful military.

While Pakistan’s law enforcement agencies are digging deep to unfold the circumstances leading to his assassination, Rawalpindi-based investigative journalist Sohail Rana sees personal enmity behind the cold-blooded murder. “Murder could be a result of personal enmity.

The way he was tabbed in the neck, arms and chest show murderer was not a professional killer,” Rana’s claim was endorsed by a senior police officer who was the first one to take a look at cleric’s dead body.

However, Rana’s analysis doesn’t carry much weight. A religious scholar of Haq’s calibre can’t be murdered just for personal animosity.

He was a fighter who fought alongside CIA and Taliban to drag Soviets. He was a diehard and staunch supporter of Taliban, so personal angle is a big nay. There could be something big behind his murder, something which has links with the US – Taliban peace talks.

As of now, the US support for the war in Afghanistan is shrinking to unprecedented levels, even sliding below the lowest points seen for the Iraq and Vietnam wars.

Afghanistan, the US and its allies have been fighting in Afghanistan for almost 18 years and until recently the war had been overshadowed by the one in Iraq. And undoubtedly, Afghanistan has become America’s longest war, surpassing the Vietnam War.

The Vietnam War, which cost 58,000 American lives, is the one most often invoked when the US troops are committed overseas. The human and material costs of the US’s longest-ever war are colossal.

More than 2,000 US military personnel have been killed and over 20,000 have been injured. The UN estimates that nearly 20,000 Afghan civilians have been killed and another 50,000 injured since 2009 alone. The US has spent some $877 billion on the war.

The Trump administration’s recent initiative to seek direct peace talks with the Taliban—a first since the start of the war in 2001—highlights that Washington is actively looking for new ways to wind down its involvement in the conflict.

As per Raashid Salah Ud Din Siddiqui, an expert on Taliban Affairs, Maulana Sami-ul-Haq has long been serving as a mediator between Taliban and the rest of the world. However, he has been inactive for the last couple of years.

Moreover, Pakistan had released Taliban co-founder and second in command Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and others last month in October after the first round of Taliban – the US direct talks held in Qatar this year. Baradar was detained soon after the world trade centre attack in 2001.

Also, Maulana Sami ul-Haq had welcomed direct talks between the US and the Afghan Taliban. Haq was a link between the Taliban and the US.

Both, Maulana Sami ul-Haq and Fazlur Rehman Khalil also maintained close links with Pakistan’s newly elected Prime Minister Imran Khan. Haq had supported Imran Khan’s political party during general elections held in July this year, Maulana Fazlur Rahman Khalil also played an important role in Imran Khan’s landmark victory.

On 12th October  2018, Maulana Sami ul-Haq held a two-hour meeting with Prime Minister Khan to expedite work on granting nationalities to Afghan and Bengali refugees. Since Moulana Sami ul Haq is no more, however, his death is shrouded in a deep mystery.

Many conspiracy theories are popping up in media circles about the merciless assassination of Moulana Sami ul Haq.

Some consider Haq’s assassination with the murder of Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Recently, the Afghan officials had asked the cleric, to help convince the Taliban to begin peace negotiations.

Maulana agreed to play a part but accused the United States and other international powers of not letting peace happen in Afghanistan. Michael Kugelman, South Asia expert at the US think-tank the Wilson Centre termed the death a loss for the peace process.

“Given Samiul Haq’s influence among the Taliban ranks, his death represents the loss of a key interlocutor to kick-start peace talks in Afghanistan.

Reconciliation has always been an elusive goal, but the effort to launch peace talks might have become all the more difficult,” Kugelman added.

Meanwhile, Moulana Sami ul Haq’s murder was mourned by the students, teachers and staff in Darul Uloom Haqqania, politicians and religious leaders across Pakistan.  However, his death was celebrated by an official of the Afghan Embassy in the US. “Shortly after news of Maulana Samiul Haq’s murder broke, Majeed Qarar, the cultural attaché at the Afghanistan Embassy in the US, went live on his personal Facebook page to congratulate Afghans on his death,” as stated by an article published by Arab News.

Sami Yousafzai, a London-based journalist working on Afghan issue since 1994 believes Maulana Samiul Haq’s death was a loss of a good contact person for peace in Afghanistan.

 “He was not a leader of the Taliban in any way but he enjoyed massive respect among Taliban as a former teacher and spiritual leader”. “Maulana was criticised in Afghanistan for his view but he was also appreciated for his anti-US stance,”added Yousafzai.  2010.

Asia release led to unprecedented protests and mayhem throughput Pakistan and Moulana Haq were asked to speak at a protest rally.

The assailants seemed known to Moulana and the murder can’t be a coincidence. Analysts say that the slaying of a cleric could further fuel the religious anti-government violence that has roiled the country in the past week and potentially inflame sectarian tensions as well.

Another possibility which led to the murder of Sami ul Haq is that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a close associate of the Taliban’s founder Mullah Omar, was recently released by Pakistan’s intelligence agencies and allowed to join his family in Afghanistan.

According to analysts, Baradar’s release was a longstanding demand of the Afghan government because he is regarded as a comparatively moderate Taliban leader who could play a role in the peace process between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Thus, sidelining Haq.

And since Donald Trump came to power, the US has been maintaining pressure on Pakistan through the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to do more to curtail the activities of the militants operating from its soil to destabilize the US-backed government in Afghanistan and to pressure the Taliban to initiate a peace process with the government.

Experts opine that under such circumstances, a religious scholar a la Sami-ul-Haq, popularly known as the ‘Godfather of Taliban’ becomes more of a liability than an asset.

Last year, Trump’s tweets condemned Pakistan for playing a double game in Afghanistan by subtly supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Trump was firm and meant what he wrote in his tweets. His bitterness was obvious when his administration withheld a tranche of $255 million US aid to Pakistan.

All these incidents are interconnected. Pakistan’s English Newspaper, the Dawn published an exclusive report on 6th October 2016 title “Act against militants or face international isolation, civilians tell military,” by Cyril Almeida in which the author writes that the civilian government has informed the military leadership of a growing international isolation of Pakistan and sought consensus on several key actions by the state.

Experts believe that there is the possibility targeted killing, an assassination to either make an example of him or to sabotage whatever role he was expected to play in the so-called reconciliation process in Afghanistan.

According to Orya Maqbool Jan, a columnist and an analyst, there is an international conspiracy Afghan and Indian intelligence could be behind the assassination of Haq.

Since neither India nor Afghanistan government is in favor of the US presence in Afghanistan.  India is neither in support of peace talks between the US, Taliban and Afghanistan.

A troubled Afghanistan is in favor of India. It appears that Sami ul Haq was murdered by the Indian spy agency.

However, the possibility of RAW’s involvement is very thin because they need courage and guts to attack inside his home but their hand can’t be negated outright. Nevertheless, the first case can be a possibility.

It is likely a handiwork of an insider or inside plot carried out by the Pakistani spy agency – ISI since Moulana Sami ul Haq was a liability than an asset like late Dr Shujata Bukhari.

Since Moulana Sami ul Haq was stabbed 16 times, will now his student be able to multiple his cause 16 million times is a moot question.

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