Minorities funds given to Madrassah Darul Uloom Haqqania gets Rs300m in KP budget
ISLAMABAD: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has made a drastic cut in the funds for minorities, allocating a whopping Rs300 million for the Darul Uloom Haqqania.
In the last year’s budgetary allocation made for the Department of Auqaf and Minority Affairs, 52.70% was earmarked for the welfare of minorities in the Annual Development Programme in contrast with 23.49% this year, an examination of the budget documents and discussion with relevant officials reveal.
While a disproportionate increase has been registered in funds for Auqaf and a major chunk went to the Darul Uloom Haqqania, the funds reserved for textbooks and fees for deserving students in Christian institutions like convent schools have been reduced. The cuts in allocations for medical grants and dowry fund for minority members are separate from this.
This reduction has occurred in the absence of any minister holding the portfolio of minority affairs. Suran Singh, murdered in April 2016, was the last in-charge of this ministry.
Provincial Information Minister Mushtaq Ghani told The News that funds were allotted on the request of Darul Uloom Haqqania that wrote a letter to Chief Minister Pervez Khattak. Minister for Auqaf Habibur Rehman confirmed receipt of the letter to the CM and defended this unprecedented allocation from the taxpayers’ money to a private organisation, saying the Darul Uloom Haqqania had produced many scholars of note, thus it deserved such assistance.
Secretary General Wifaqul Madaris Al-Arabia, Qari Hanif Jalandhari, wondered as to how this happened as no fund had ever been released to seminaries in the recent past. Mushtaq Ghani, however, insisted this had been a practice during the MMA government, only resumed by the PTI administration.
Rs222 million were allocated in the Annual Development Programme in the last financial year (2015-16) for the KP Department of Auqaf and Minority Affairs. Of that, Rs117 million (52.70%) were for the welfare of minority community.
The overall allocation for the department this year (2016-17) is Rs366 million and minorities got only Rs86 million (23.49%) of it. As many as Rs150 million will be released to the Darul Uloom Haqqania in 2016-17 and as much amount in the next financial year. The purpose has been described as construction and rehabilitation of Darul Uloom Haqqania.
Questions are being raised as to how a private organisation like the Darul Uloom Haqqania could be allocated an amount from the taxpayers’ money. No seminary has been given any grant by the federal government since 2002, according to former secretary of religious affairs, Vakil Khan, who was also involved in seminary reforms. Before that, a fund was set up for seminaries during the Zia era and that was from Zakat, not tax revenue, he said.
Qari Hanif Jalandhary explained that many seminaries had even refused to accept the funds being offered during the Zia era. The News asked KP’s Auqaf Mminister, Habibur Rehman, whether there was a practice of funding seminaries during the MMA’s provincial government, he said he was not aware of it. The minister who hails from Buner has one model seminary set up in Buner.
Justifying the allocation for Haqqania, he said it was the alma mater of many distinguished scholars. Key Taliban leaders Mullah Omer, Mullah Mansour and Jalaluddin Haqqani graduated from Darul Uloom Haqqania and so did Asim Umar, the head of al-Qaeda’s South Asia chapter.
As for Benazir Bhutto’s killing, the FIA told a trial court on February 26, 2015, that three students of this seminary were involved in her killing. Darul Uloom’s director education Wisal Ahmed, though confirmed before the court they had been students, denied the seminary’s role in this murder.
It should be noted that earlier Maulana Samiul Haq had vehemently denied any role of Darul Uloom Haqqania in widespread killings by the Taliban. He said that if any person belonging to any institution, government or private, indulges in any crime, the institution he belonged to cannot be blamed for the crime.