ISLAMABAD - Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians chief Asif Ali Zardari yesterday blasted the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf for allegedly ‘legitimising militancy’ by allocating Rs 300 million for a ‘Taliban-linked’ madrassa (religious seminary).

Zardari, a former President, said this was nothing but “legitimization of militancy and militant Taliban” that will undermine the nation’s resolve to fight militants to the finish.

PTI chief Imran Khan earlier defended the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government’s move saying they had made a ‘wise decision’ to allocate Rs 300 million for Darul Uloom Haqqania madrassa in Nowshera run by known cleric Maulana Samiul Haq.

Khan believed the funds and support will help the madrassa students assimilate in society and keep them away from radicalisation.

The cricketer-turned politician said when the Taliban were opposing the anti-polio campaign in the province and were killing polio workers, Maulana Samiul Haq - who heads the Darul Uloom Haqqania and is widely known as the father of Afghan Taliban - supported him and launched a polio-immunisation campaign.

Reports said the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government sacrificed funds for minorities to save Rs 300 million for the Darul Uloom Haqqania. Last year the PTI-led government in the province earmarked 52.70 percent out of the budgetary allocation made for the Department of Auqaf and Minority Affairs for the welfare of minorities in the Annual Development Programme in contrast to 23.49 percent this year.

Zardari’s spokesman Senator Farhatullah Babar said the former President was deeply concerned over the use of public funds for legitimizing a private seminary known for promoting private jihad (holy war) project.

“The resources should have been spent on human development instead of on a seminary whose claim to fame lies in its promotion of militant Islam and the world view of Islamic militants,” he quoted the PPPP chief as saying.

He added: “That it should have happened around the time when a group of the militant Taliban reportedly claimed responsibility for the target killing of Amjad Sabri Qawwal in Karachi makes it all the more poignant.”

He said that the head of the Darul Uloom Haqqania in Nowshera - Maulana Samiul Haq - was an acknowledged sympathizer and undeclared spokesman of the Taliban.

During the government-Taliban talks in 2014, the Taliban actually named the head of the seminary to negotiate on their behalf, he said.

“It is also widely known that a number of militant Taliban leaders have been students of this seminary,” he added.

Zardari said in the wake of killing of Afghan Taliban chief Mulla Mansoor Akhtar in Balochistan recently it appeared that some elements were reviving the jihadi project.

Explaining this, he said that recently conservative religious parties led by a proscribed organization held congregations in Islamabad protesting Mansoor’s death. “Now a privately owned pro-Taliban madrassa has been given Rs 300 million,” he remarked.

Zardari said although the National Action Plan called for disallowing banned outfits from resurrecting yet they have resurrected and were openly promoting their militant agenda with impunity.