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Pakistan gives in to 'international pressure', opposes registration of Hafiz Saeed's JuD's political arm as political party

Pakistan’s interior ministry has opposed the registration of Hafiz Saeed's Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) political wing Milli Muslim League (MML), putting brakes to Hafeez Saeed’s political ambitions. The banned outfit, a front for the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba that had carried out the 2008 Mumbai attack, launched a political party in August, days after authorities extended its chief and Mumbai attacks mastermind Saeed's "house arrest" for two months fearing threat to public order.

 Pakistan gives in to international pressure, opposes registration of Hafiz Saeeds JuDs political arm as political party

File photo of Hafeez Saeed. AP

The interior ministry cited international pressure and refusal of security clearance by intelligence agencies as the reason for refusing to register MML, The Hindu reported.

According to The Nation Pakistan’s election commission had sought for interior ministry’s comments on the registration of MML in August. The paper further wrote that the ministry in its reply to the election commission said that MML is an affiliate of Lashkar-e- Taiba, the JuD and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation, and ideologically is of the same hue.

News 18 reported that the ministry had even referred to "some countries" raising the issue "diplomatically". Meanwhile, Pakistan's foreign minister Khawaja Asif at an event in New York, referring to Saeed, said: "You mentioned a name. It's a proscribed organisation. The gentleman's under house arrest. But I agree with you that on that score we have to do more. We have to do more. There are people in Pakistan who can be a liability in times of crisis for Pakistan and (for) the region. I don't disagree with that."

Saifullah Khalid, who claimed to be the president of the new party, had said at the time of the launch that the new party will strive to make Pakistan a "real Islamic state" and demanded the immediate release of Saeed, who is under "house arrest" since January.

The party, political observers said, seems as an effort to set up a front which is acceptable to moderate Pakistanis. However, there appears to be little chance of electoral success for religious parties in Pakistan as the share of such political outfits have have gradually shrunk in parliament.

Currently, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal of Maulan Fazlur Rehman is one of the largest such party with about a dozen elected members in the National Assembly, whereas the Jamaat-e-Islami has about half a dozen in the 342-member house. Reuters had earlier reported that the party's launch was in line with a plan put forward by the Pakistani military last year to mainstream militant groups.

In its first political outing, MML had fielded a candidate in an independent capacity last month in a by-election for NA-120 Lahore, the seat vacated by former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif and managed 5 percent votes. The by-election was won by Sharif's wife Kulsoom Nawaz Sharif.

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Updated Date: Sep 27, 2017 16:17:24 IST

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