Local officials in a Pakistani province are defending their decision to grant US$3 million to a controversial Islamic seminary known as the "University of Jihad." Officials from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial government say their funding of the Darul Uloom Haqqania seminary is helping the institution go "mainstream." "A large number of students study, live and eat in this seminary, and it's doing great service for the poor people," Mushtaq Ghani, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's information minister, told The Washington Post
. Attended by 4,000 students, the seminary has produced scores of insurgents, including leaders, to fight U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan. One expert said that 80 percent of Haqqania seminary students joined or sympathize with the Taliban. "The provincial government needs to tell the people why such a big amount is to be given to one seminary," Sitara Ayaz, a Pakistani senator told the Post
. Ayaz said other more moderate religions institutions are not receiving similar funding. "This money has much more do with provincial politics, and power, than anything else," said Zahid Hussain, an Islamabad-based political analyst. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are both past donors to the seminary, said the report.