ISLAMABAD (News Desk) – After receiving severe criticism for setting aside Rs. 300 million for Darul Uloom Haqqania, a hardline seminary near Akora Khattak, in its 2016-17 budget, the PTI-led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has begun its defense of the controversial move.

In an interview with Geo News, PTI leader Imran Khan defended the allocation, saying that it would help lower-income madrassah (seminary) students in rejoining society.

“Hundreds and thousands of Pakistani students go to madrassahs for education, we cannot cut them off from society,” the PTI chief maintained. “Investing our money into them will bring them back in to the mainstream and keep them away from radicalization.”

On the occasion, he also added that Darul Uloom was supported and financed by ANP during its tenure. He also clarified that the late Wali Khan had also visited the madrassah during his life.

The cricketer-turned-politician also noted that Maulana Samiul Haq, who heads Darul Uloom Haqqania, had also helped the government in launching an anti-polio campaign, unlike other hardline Islamist groups.

The seminary has, in the past, aided the development of known Islamist militants, including the first emir of the Taliban Mullah Omar.