Maulana Sami ul Haq was stabbed in his home by unknown attackers, family members have said, though questions remain. The Islamist cleric trained members of the Afghan Taliban and was an ally of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Maulana Sami ul Haq, a leading Islamist cleric, was killed in Pakistan on Friday by unknown assailants, his nephew and son reported. Pakistani government officials confirmed Haq's death, though details remained hazy.
According to his son, Hamidul, Haq was stabbed to death in his bedroom at home in Rawalpindi.
"My father ... was alone at his home," Hamidul told reporters. "His guard had gone out minutes before the attack and upon his return he saw my father in critical condition." Haq was taken to a hospital, where he then died.
However, initial reports had said that Haq had been shot. The number of attackers involved also remained unclear.
Haq's spokesperson, Yousaf Shah, said the attacker's identity and motive were unknown. Police officials have said they are investigating.
As part of a political and religious coalition in Pakistan, Sami ul Haq (center) protested the use of drones by the US
A central Taliban educator
Haq was known as the "Father of the Taliban" because he trained some of the leaders of the Islamist movement in Afghanistan. Many of them attended his Haqqania seminary, a well-known Islamist school in northwest Pakistan on the border with Afghanistan. One of Haq's students, Mullah Mohammad Omar, went on to head the US-backed resistance against Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 80s before founding the Afghan Taliban.
DW interviewed Haq in 2015, during a visit to Haqqania.
"They were all heroes, of course," Haq said then of his students who took part in militant resistance. "If someone attacks your country, you have to defend it." He added that the West never gave the Taliban a chance to implement its system.
Haq also led a faction of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam in Pakistan, a party that wants to institute total Islamic law in the state.
Pakistan's prime minister, Imran Khan, expressed condolences for Haq's death. "We lost a great scholar and religious leader today," he said from China, where he was on an official visit. Khan had been criticized for supporting Haq, including donating funds to the Haqqania seminary when he was head of a provincial government.
Following the announcement of his death, some of Haq's supporters rioted in the streets of Rawalpindo and the capital Islamabad. His funeral is expected to be held Saturday in the northern town of Akora Khattak.
cmb/msh (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)