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|September 16, 1998||
Taliban's alma mater threatens jehad against Sharief
A leading religious university has threatened to launch a jehad (holy war) against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief's government if it signs the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
The Dar-ul-Aloom Haqqania University, run by an influential senator in Pakistan's upper house of parliament, issued the fatwa (Islamic decree) warning that "all Muslims were bound to struggle against and resist those willing to support the treaty".
The university, which has about 2,500 students, is the alma mater of many of the Afghan religious students-turned-guerrilla fighters now ruling in neighbouring Afghanistan under the Taliban's white flag.
The Taliban have imposed a harsh form of Islamic law in the 90 per cent of Afghanistan it rules. Many of its leaders learned their Islamic law at the Dar-ul-Aloom Haqqania University.
The decree yesterday came as Sharif tried to gauge public support for signing the CTBT, something Pakistan may have to do if it expects to see crippling international sanctions lifted.
Sanctions were slapped on both India and Pakistan after the two neighbours conducted underground nuclear tests in May.
Pakistan, which had barely $ 1 billion in its foreign exchange reserve at the time, has been badly affected. India, by comparison, had a healthy reserve of $ 26 billion and has been mildly affected.
The decree warned that signing the CTBT would be a "suicidal step". It said the move would leave Pakistan at a military disadvantage against India. "It will make Pakistan defenceless against India and Israel. Both countries are head and shoulders above [Pakistan] in conventional arms, which can only be countered with nuclear capability," the decree said.
The decree came as both houses of parliament were debating whether to sign the treaty. The Opposition stormed out of parliament, saying the government had already decided to sign the treaty and the discussion was meaningless.
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Siddiq Kanju said "no secret decision" has been made. But the government is reportedly prepared to sign the treaty if sanctions are lifted and Pakistan is recognised as a nuclear power.
But for the religious right wing in the country, that's not enough. "To ward off the threat of aggression against Islam, secure and defend the Muslim world, it is obligatory to acquire all types of defence equipment and manufacture every type of armament on a war footing," the decree said.
"No such agreement was allowed under the injunctions of Islam which [will] put limits on arming an Islamic state or which could have a negative bearing on the preparations for holy war against the forces inimical to Islam," it said.
There was no immediate response from the government.
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