KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) - The Taliban said it will open its own schools in areas of southern Afghanistan under its control, an apparent effort to win support among local residents and undermine the western-backed government's efforts to expand education.
Schools going up in south of country
Of course it would help a lot if Pakistan's Military Intelligence Agencies were not funding and supporting the Taliban.
Since the Taliban schools are not schools but Madrasa for training insurgent fighters.
Afghan education minister says Taliban plan to set up schools is 'political propaganda'
Atmar described the Taliban as "enemies" of education, saying its militants had burned 183 schools in the past year, caused the closure of 396 others, forcing 200,000 students out of class. He also said 61 students and teachers had been killed.
"If they want to build schools, why are they burning our (government) schools?" he said.
Atmar dismissed the Taliban plan to open its own as "political propaganda," saying they did not control the provinces where it plans to set them up.
He said the government would have the "legitimate right" to attack Taliban schools that became centers of terrorism.
The Taliban's attacks on state schools in the past few years have chipped away at one of the main successes of Afghanistan's democratic revival: a huge foreign-funded development drive that has seen a fivefold increase in the number of children attending school.
Quetta is now the headquarters of the Taliban movement. What role are Pakistan’s intelligence agencies playing to sustain their presence?
President Musharraf relies on the religious party Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam, or JUI, which dominates this province, Baluchistan, as an important partner in the provincial and national parliaments.
At a madrasa, called simply Jamiya Islamiya, on winding Hajji Ghabi Road, a board in the courtyard proudly declares “Long Live Mullah Omar,” in praise of the Taliban leader, and “Long Live Fazlur Rehman,” the leader of JUI.
Members of the provincial government and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam are frequent visitors to the school, the local opposition party member said, asking that his name not be used because he feared Pakistan’s intelligence services. People on motorbikes with green government license plates visit at night, he said, as do luxurious sport utility vehicles with blackened windows, a favourite of Taliban commanders.Increasing Pakistani role seen in Taliban resurgence
The all-powerful Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), which had for long "used religious parties for Pakistan's domestic and foreign policy adventures", is extensively providing support to the Taliban.Western diplomats in Pakistan as well as Afghanistan say the ISI and the Military Intelligence are actively supporting a Taliban restoration in an effort to assert greater influence on the country's "vulnerable western flank" (read the porous Pak-Afghan border regions).
According to the New York Times, this is motivated not only by an Islamic fervour but also by a longstanding view that the jihadist movement allows them to assert greater influence in Afghanistan's border region.
According to the paper, so great is the ISI influence that even families who have lost their sons in suicide bombing missions against American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, say of the deaths on conditions of anonymity because of pressure from Pakistani intelligence agents.
The paper quoted a former Taliban commander as saying that Pakistani authorities jailed him when he refused to go to Afghanistan to fight against the NATO and Afghan forces, adding that for Western and local consumption, his arrest was billed as part of Pakistan's crackdown on the Taliban in the country.
According to Pakistani and Afghan tribal elders, former Taliban members who have refused to fight in Afghanistan have been arrested, or even mysteriously killed, after resisting pressure to re-enlist in the Taliban.
"The Pakistanis are actively supporting the Taliban," said a Western diplomat in Kabul, adding that he had seen an intelligence dossier highlighting a recent meeting on the Afghan border region between a senior Taliban commander and a retired colonel of the ISI.
Civilians on the border fear ISI
Carlotta Gall, a New York Times correspondent, who was manhandled and punched on December 19 by Pakistani agents who broke into her hotel room in Quetta, said Pakistanis and Afghans interviewed on the frontier — frightened by the long reach of Pakistan's intelligence agencies, spoke only with assurances that they would not be named. Even then, they spoke cautiously.
Despite this, they were visited by the ISI because the goons who broke into her hotel room copied data from the computers, notebooks and cellphones they seized, and tracked down her contacts and acquaintances.
They have been lucky not to have been killed so far because the ISI has a built a hideous reputation for bumping off people they see as being inimical to hardline Pakistani interests.
Some months back, Hayatullah Khan, a Pakistani journalist who exposed as lie the Pakistan military's claim of an attack on a terror camp (which was actually conducted by the US) was killed in cold blood.
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