Pakistan politics

Pakistan: Members of Hafiz Saeed’s political party to contest polls from another platform

The Election Commission has refused to register Milli Muslim League as a political party because of its links with the alleged mastermind of the Mumbai attacks.

A day after the Election Commission of Pakistan dismissed a plea by Milli Muslim League, the political front of Hafiz Saeed-led Jamaat-ud-Dawa, to register as a political party, around 200 of its candidates will contest the general elections from another platform, the Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek, reported The Express Tribune.

A four-member bench of the Election Commission had said on Wednesday that the decision to dismiss Milli Muslim League’s plea was made after the Ministry of Interior expressed reservations because of the party’s alleged links with Saeed, reported Dawn.

The Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek is headed by Mian Ihsan Bari and headquartered in Bahawalnagar district in Punjab province, according to the Election Commission’s website. Pakistan is set to hold a general election on July 25 to choose representatives for the National Assembly and four provincial assemblies.

An office bearer of Milli Muslim League told The Express Tribune that the interior ministry in its letter to the commission had falsely claimed that Saifullah Khalid, the party president, is Saeed’s son-in-law. “In fact they are not even distant relatives,” he said.

The Milli Muslim League has announced that candidates backed by the group will contest under the banner of Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek if they do not get a remedy from higher courts before elections.

Party counsel Rizwan Abbasi said the federal government cannot oppose the registration of any political party. “No one can predict if a political party will affiliate with banned outfits in the future,” he said, adding that Saifullah Khalid had no links with Saeed.

This is the second time the Election Commission has rejected the Milli Muslim League’s application to register as a political party. The commission’s previous decision was overturned by the Islamabad High Court in March. The court then directed it to hear the party’s plea and decide the case. The commission subsequently asked the group to get a clearance from the Ministry of Interior.

In April, the United States added Milli Muslim League, along with Tehreek-e-Azadi-e-Kashmir, to its list of Foreign Terrorist Organisations, reasoning that both were fronts of the banned terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba.

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