'Father of the Afghan Taliban' assassinated at his home

JUI-S chief Samiul Haq. —File

The prominent Pakistani cleric Maulana Samiul Haq, known as the "father of the Taliban", has been killed in a knife attack at his home in Rawalpindi.

Maulana Hamidul Haq said his octogenarian father was stabbed to death while he was resting in his room.

JUI-S's Peshawar president also confirmed Haq's death following an assassination attempt in Rawalpindi.

Earlier, some reports suggested that gunmen on motorbikes opened fire on Samiul Haq's vehicle and sped away.

He said the government funded Haq's seminary for institutionalising modern curriculum, while the slain cleric had also backed the government for the anti-polio drive.

Haq was known as the father of the Afghan Taliban due to the huge influence and respect he enjoyed among the leaders and cadres of the militia.

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He was a religious scholar and former Senator. He was the member of the Senate of Pakistan from 1985 to 1991 and again from 1991 to 1997.

Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi has also condemned the assassination.

Afghan Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the "people of Afghanistan will never forget (Haq's) services for them" and his killers were the "enemies of Islam".

Haq's sprawling Haqqani seminary taught many of Afghanistan's Taliban and thousands of other students a strict interpretation of Islam.

Samiul Haq was now the chancellor of Darul Uloom Haqqania, a Deobandi Islamic seminary which is the alma mater of many prominent Taliban members. He formed Mutahida Deeni Mahaz (United Religious Front), an alliance of relatively small religio-political parties, to participate in Pakistani general election, 2013.

Prime Minister Imran Khan's party had sought to work closely with him to implement various reforms and mainstream madrassah education. Khan's provincial government in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa donated millions of dollars to Haq's hard-line seminary.

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