National Geographic : 2010 Jul
surprised when, a er a phone call or two, we were invited to return later that day to meet the nazim, or chief administrator. "It is in the tradition of the Prophet to be hospitable," said Maulana Imdad Ullah, greeting us in a small anteroom over tea and lemon biscuits. A self-assured man with an unexpectedly warm smile, the nazim asserted that the madrassa was purely a religious institution. But he made no secret of his sympathy for Jaish or its leader, Massood Azhar, whose father founded and runs the school. "It should be a natural desire for every Muslim to follow in his footsteps," he said. I asked if students were encouraged to take up arms against U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan. "When they graduate, it's their own choice if they want to go to jihad or not," he said. And what exactly did he mean by "jihad," which can be de ned in many ways? "Jihad is ghting and killing." e nazim's candor was striking, as was the has been linked to al Qaeda. e group and others like it in Punjab once operated with the support of the government, which used them as prox- ies in its struggle with India over Kashmir. A er 9/11 the government banned the groups under U.S. pressure, but failed to prosecute their lead- ers or regulate the madrassas that feed their ideology. Pakistan has thousands of madrassas, many of which draw their ideological inspira- tion, and sometimes financial support, from Saudi Arabia. e Jaish madrassa fronts a quiet street. Because it was the holy month of Ramadan, the semi- nary was not in session when we arrived, but construction work on a new fourth oor sug- gested that it su ered no lack of resources. A street-level store sold alcohol-free perfume along with books glorifying insurgent martyrs in Iraq and Afghanistan. I didn't expect to get past the gate, so I was DANCING HORSES are trained by Faizal Abbas (le ), a feudal landlord who pursues the hobby at his compound near Multan. But life is hard for many Punjabis. On a policeman's land in Goraya, villagers thresh rice (below) in exchange for a share of the crop.