Pak religious students rush to Afghanistan

NNI, August 10,1998

ISLAMABAD: Thousands of students from Pakistani religious institutions have left for Afghanistan to join hands with the Taliban in their offensive against rival Northern Alliance to help the Islamic militia in consolidating their positions in and outside Mazar-e-Sharif.

Officials of "madrassas" (religious educational institutions) in North-West Frontier Province closed institutions for 15 days facilitating the students to go to Afghanistan to throw weight behind the Taliban Islamic Movement.

Pakistani students rushed to Afghanistan one day after Taliban claimed to have captured the northern town of Mazar-e-Sharif, stronghold of the opposition northern alliance.

Reports said that senior officials and several ministers of the Taliban government are active in different parts of the frontier province to take more manpower from Pakistani religious madrassas to Afghanistan.

Besides joining hands with Taliban in their continued offensive against their foes, these students will perform security arrangements in the recently captured areas in northern part of the war-battered country.

Religious scholars in NWFP last week formed a committee, comprising senior "Ulema" to coordinate with Afghanistan's Taliban, majority of whom have studied in Pakistan. Taliban's supreme leader, Mulla Muhammad Omar had sent his special advisor Maulvi Abdul Wakeel, to the meeting, to seek Pakistani religious leader support for Taliban.

The Afghan opposition alliance accused Pakistan of backing Taliban in their recent advance in northern Afghanistan and capturing of Mazar-e-Sharif. The charge denied by Pakistan.

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