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Mullah makes Pak rulers shiver

Mullah makes Pak rulers shiver

Author: PTI
Publication: The Deccan Heral
Date: June 24, 2000

Pakistani fundamentalist leader Sami ul-Haq, who heads an Islamic academy in the North-West Frontier Province, has quietly built an empire of soft-voiced, sandal-wearing followers that make generals and bureaucrats quake in their boots, the Washington Post newspaper reported.

Graduates of his Islamic academy in Darul Uloom Haqqania, have fanned out through the region for years - many joined the Taliban and some number among its top leaders.

''While they have not succeeded in replacing Pakistan`s moderate, parliamentary version of Islam with their vision of a stricter religious state, Pakistan`s maulanas or religious scholars exercise formidable de facto veto over issues of Muslim law, culture and policy that not even Gen Pervez Musharraf has felt strong enough to challenge,`` the Post said.

''Thousands have taken up as religious teachers across Pakistan, spreading the word of Allah and preparing for the day their nation will become a true Islamic nation,`` it said in a despatch from Pakistan.

Haq, 62, says that he could do without any help from the political parties and that ''the country`s secular leaders cannot dare to touch us``.

He says ''vested interests`` in Pakistan have been pushing Gen Musharraf in a ''secular direction``, while ''we are trying to pull him back. It has become a tug of war``.

''Conservative clerics say that non-governmental organisations, mostly western-funded aid groups, have a hidden agenda to woo Muslim women away from their traditions, threatening the authority of Islam by promoting divorce and careers for women,`` the Washington Post said.

The Post quoted Maulana Fazlur Rahman Khalil as telling a Pakistani newspaper: ''We have proof that these organisations are promoting special causes. If women are allowed to work and travel, it destroys our system, our families. Fathers suspect daughters, husbands suspect wives.``

Rahman also said that he opposed the proliferation of satellite dishes in Pakistan because they spread ''obscenity and dirt, promoted by the western world``.

In some areas of Pakistan, the paper noted, Islamic activists have indeed destroyed satellite dishes and cable TV operations.

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