A Pakistani political and religious leader has been killed by unknown attackers at his residence in the northern city of Rawalpindi, according to family members and officials.
Sami-ul-Haq, (80),was stabbed to death in his bed on Friday, his son Hamidullah told local television news channel ARY by telephone.
“He was resting in his room … He had been ill, and was a heart patient,” said Hamidullah.
“His guard had left the room for 15 minutes, when he returned he found Maulana [Haq]’s body covered in blood in his bed.”
Saeed-ur-Rehman Sarwar, a leader of Haq’s JUI-S political party, also confirmed the killing.
“Maulana Sami-ul-Haq has been killed,” he said from outside the government hospital where his body was taken.
Sami-ul-Haqwas known as the “Father of the Taliban”.
He led the ideological fight that led to the formation of the mujahideen force that first fought the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and later morphed into the Afghan Taliban.
Haq was the chief of the Darul Uloom Haqqania seminary in the northern Pakistani town of Akora Khattak, the alma matter of several senior leaders of the Afghan Taliban, including former chief Mullah Omar and Mullah Akhtar Mansour.
He openly backed the Afghan Taliban in its fight against the Afghan government and the United States-led NATO forces in Pakistan’s northwestern neighbour.
Within Pakistan, Haq was considered a hardline right-wing religious cleric, but his party contested elections, rather than outright backing armed struggle against the state, as was undertaken by the Pakistani Taliban.
He was a former senator, having served in Pakistan’s upper house of parliament for multiple terms in the 1980s and 1990s, and again from 2003 to 2009.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, in China on a state visit, issued a statement condemning the attack on Haq.