ISA, Haq And His Assassination – OpEd


Top Pakistani cleric Maulana Samiul Haq, who was also known as the ‘godfather of Taliban’, was stabbed to death at his residence in the garrison city of Rawalpindi on November 02, 2018.

Haq, 82, was the head of the Islamic religious seminary Darul Uloom Haqqania in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Akora Khattak town and also the chief of the hardline political party Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Sami (JUI-S).

Haq, a heart patient, was killed by unidentified attackers while he was resting in his room. His personal guard was sent out to the market and when he came back he saw Haq lying “in a pool of blood” on the bed.

Haq was the custodian of Darul Uloom Haqqania, a sprawling seminary in Akora Khattak, which was established by his father Maulana Abdul Haq in 1947, an Islamic scholar of the Deobandi school of thought and founding leader of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, Pakistan.

On November 02, he was invited to Rawalpindi to address a protest against the acquittal of Aasia Bibi by the Supreme Court in a blasphemy case and also against the Pakistani Army, PM and Chief Justice. However, he couldn’t reach Islamabad and went to his residence for rest, where he was stabbed to death by unknown persons. However, earlier he had delivered his last speech to a gathering in Akora Khattak.

Haq’s fame reached its peak when the Afghan Mujahidin were fighting a war against the Soviet Union.

In the mid-1970s, Pakistani intelligence officials began privately lobbying the U.S. and its allies to send material assistance to the Islamist insurgents. Pakistani President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq’s ties with the U.S. had been strained during Jimmy Carter’s presidency due to Pakistan’s nuclear program and the execution of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in April 1979, but Carter told National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski and Secretary of State Cyrus Vance as early as January 1979 that it was vital to “repair our relationships with Pakistan” in light of the unrest in Iran. According to former CIA official Robert Gates, “the Carter administration turned to CIA … to counter Soviet and Cuban aggression in the Third World, particularly beginning in mid-1979.”

In March 1979, “CIA sent several covert action options relating to Afghanistan to the SCC [Special Coordination Committee]” of the United States National Security Council. At a March 30 meeting, U.S. Department of Defense representative Walter B. Slocombe asked “if there was value in keeping the Afghan insurgency going, ‘sucking the Soviets into a Vietnamese quagmire?'” When asked to clarify this remark, Slocombe explained: “Well, the whole idea was that if the Soviets decided to strike at this tar baby [Afghanistan] we had every interest in making sure that they got stuck.” Yet an April 5 memo from National Intelligence Officer Arnold Horelick warned: “Covert action would raise the costs to the Soviets and inflame Moslem opinion against them in many countries. The risk was that a substantial U.S. covert aid program could raise the stakes and induce the Soviets to intervene more directly and vigorously than otherwise intended.”

In May 1979, U.S. officials secretly began meeting with rebel leaders through Pakistani government contacts. Here it was when the Haq family and/or Haqqania Madrasah was chosen to play a bridging role among the CIA, ISA and Afghan Mujahedeen. Maulana Anwarul Haq “Samiul Haq’s father” through a former Pakistani military official personally introduced a CIA official to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar that month. Additional meetings were held on April 6 and July 3, and on the same day as the second meeting, Carter signed a “presidential ‘finding'” that “authorized the CIA to spend just over $500,000” on non-lethal aid to the Mujahedeen, which “seemed at the time a small beginning.”

In the aftermath of the Soviet invasion, Carter was determined to respond vigorously. In a televised speech, he announced sanctions on the Soviet Union, promised renewed aid to Pakistan. Carter initiated a program to arm the mujahideen through Pakistan’s ISI and Haq, and secured a pledge from Saudi Arabia to match U.S. funding for this purpose. U.S. support for the mujahedeen accelerated under Carter’s successor, Ronald Reagan, at a final cost to U.S. taxpayers of some $3 billion to Pakistan. However, the decision to route U.S. aid through Pakistan led to massive fraud, as weapons sent to Karachi were frequently sold on the local market rather than delivered to the Afghan rebels; Karachi soon “became one of the most violent cities in the world.” Pakistan also controlled which rebels received assistance: Of the seven mujahideen groups supported by Zia’s government, four espoused Islamic fundamentalist beliefs—and these fundamentalists received most of the funding.

The program relied heavily on the Pakistani President Mohammad Zia ul-Haq, who had a close relationship with Wilson. His Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was an intermediary for funds distribution, passing of weapons, military training and financial support to Afghan resistance groups. Along with funding from similar programs from Britain’s MI6 and SAS, Saudi Arabia, and the People’s Republic of China, the ISI armed and trained over 100,000 insurgents between 1978 and 1992. They encouraged the volunteers from the Arab states to join the Afghan resistance in its struggle against the Soviet troops based in Afghanistan. The Pakistani government funneled all support to the Mujahedeen directly and through Haq.

Reports show civilian personnel from the U.S. Department of State and the CIA frequently visited the Afghanistan-Pakistan Durand Line area during this time in coordination with Gen. Hameed Gul, Qazi Hussain and Samiul Haq. Haq entered into practical politics in 1980. After his father died in 1988, he parted ways with Maulana Fazal Rahman, the then chief of JUI-P and formed his own faction known as Jamiat UIema-e-Islam-Sami (JUI-S). The chief of JUI-S remained a member of Majlis-e-Shura of former president General Ziaul Haq and was immediately made as the chairman of Difa-e-Afghanistan Council, which had to brain wash, train and support the Islamist insurgents to fight against the Afghan government even after the Soviet Union left.

William J. Casey the Director of Central Intelligence startled his Pakistani hosts by proposing that they take the Afghan war into enemy territory — into the Soviet Union itself. Casey wanted to ship subversive propaganda through Afghanistan to the Soviet Union’s predominantly Muslim southern republics. The Pakistanis agreed, and the CIA soon supplied thousands of Korans, as well as books on Soviet atrocities in Uzbekistan and tracts on historical heroes of Uzbek nationalism by Haqqani Madrasah of Samiul Haq.

Other direct points of contact between the US government and mujahedeen include the CIA flying Hekmatyar to the United States, where he was hosted by State Department official Zalmay Khalizad, and the invitation was personally delivered by Samiul Haq. Hekmatyar was invited to meet with President Reagan but refused, and was replaced at the White House’s October 1985 conference with mujahedeen by Younis Khalis. CIA agent Howard Hart developed a personal relationship with Abdul Haq which led to the Afghan meeting both Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.

Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Armitage regularly met with mujahedeen, particularly Burhanuddin Rabbani, whose meeting for the first time was facilitated by Samiul Haq. CIA agents are also known to have given direct cash payments to Jalaluddin Haqqani, who was educated, trained and made to fight by Maulana Anwarul Haq.

The U.S. offered two packages of economic assistance and military sales to support Pakistan’s role in the war against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan. The first six-year assistance package (1981–87) amounted to US$3.2 billion, equally divided between economic assistance and military sales. The U.S. also sold 40 F-16 aircraft to Pakistan during 1983–87 at a cost of $1.2 billion outside the assistance package. The second six-year assistance package (1987–93) amounted to $4.2 billion.

Out of this, $2.28 billion were allocated for economic assistance in the form of grants or loan that carried the interest rate of 2–3 per cent. The rest of the allocation ($1.74 billion) was in the form of credit for military purchases. More than $20 billion in U.S. funds were funneled into the country to train and arm the Afghan resistance groups, from which a big amount was used to expand and accelerate Haqqania Madrasah and other Islamic Madrasahs in Pakistan which have been producing insurgents since day one. Samiul Haq was elected as Senator twice, from 1985 to 1991 and from 1991 to 1997.

After the government of Dr. Najibullah was collapsed and mujahedeen took over, Difa-e-Afghanistan ‘Defense for Afghanistan’ Council was changed into Difa-e-Pakistan Council and Samiul Haq was made the head of the council till his assassination. The council comprises more than 30 religious and political groups, which was formed to weaken the Afghan government and create stronger bloc against India. To accomplish the goal, the Pakistani army in particular the ISI with the help of Samiul Haq and Islamic extremists created Taliban. During this time most of the Afghan Taliban’s Shura members had studied in Darul Uloom Haqqania under Samiul Haq, thus he was much revered amongst the top Taliban leadership.

Ahmed Rashid in his book ‘Taliban: The Power of Militant Islam in Afghanistan and beyond’ has also written he was referred to as “the father of Taliban”.

He added that in 1999, at least eight Taliban cabinet ministers were graduates of Haq’s madrasah and dozens of graduates of his seminary served as Taliban governors, military commanders, judges and bureaucrats during their regime in Afghanistan. He went on to write that Younis Khalis, a Mujahedeen commander in Afghanistan during the Soviet-Afghan War and Muhammad Nabi, both studied under Haq.

Subsequently, months before the 2018 general elections, he declined to be a part of the religious parties’ attempt to cobble together another alliance as he had already announced support for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. And here it was, when his journey begun to be turning. Haq was appointed for the reconciliation between the Nawaz government and Kal-i-dam Taliban of Pakistan in 2014. Meanwhile, he was asked to push the Afghan Taliban to bring asperity into their fight against the Afghan government and the international forces. Though, he succeeded in fueling the Afghan Taliban to keep fighting in Afghanistan but failed in reconciliation between the Nawaz government and Kal-i-dam Taliban.

However, the pledges made between him and Tehreek-e-Insaf ‘the Army and PTI win-win elections’ had not been fulfilled. Meanwhile, Zalmai Khalilzad the US special envoy indirectly and Mr. Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal the Afghan Ambassador and special envoy of President Ghani directly reached Haq and seek his support in peacemaking process between Taliban and the Afghan government. The back-turn of the army and Imran Khan to Haq brought all factors to Haq utilizing his Islamic skills against the army and the Pakistani government. He had rightfully collected the data and intended to issue an Islamic verdict that should have proven activities of the Pakistani army and IK’s government non-Islamic including the judiciary, in particular the chief justice.

In conclusion, finally his intention to play a vital role in peacemaking between the Afghan Taliban, Afghan government and US, and issuing the Islamic verdict against the Pakistani army and PM paved the road to his assassination. However, the Pakistani Islamic scholars, parties and their couple hundred thousand students and followers have realized that how they have been non-Islamic and illegally used by non-Islamic military and government; and they are killed in one or other way at the end of the day, thus, they might not sit silently. On the other hand, the educated and broad minded Pakistani civilians have also realized that how the Islamic extremism created by their army has pushed their livings to the wall.

*Najibullah Azad is an advocate, writer, columnist, critic, researcher, analyst and a former spokesman to the President of Afghanistan E-mail: [email protected], Facebook: Najibullah Azad – نجیب الله ازاد

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