United States concerned about Lashkar-e-Taiba affiliates contesting Pakistan general elections: Dawn
The US state department said it was satisfied that the country’s Election Commission had refused to register militant leader Hafiz Saeed’s political party.
The United States has conveyed to Pakistan its concern about the participation of individuals affiliated to the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group in the July 25 general elections, Dawn reported on Saturday.
“We have repeatedly expressed our concerns to the Pakistani government about LeT, including the participation of LeT-affiliated individuals in the elections,” the US Department of State said in a statement.
The department, however, said it was satisfied that the Pakistan Election Commission had rejected the registration of the Milli Muslim League, militant leader Hafiz Saeed’s political party. Saeed is the chief of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, which is believed to be a front for the Lashkar-e-Taiba. The militant group is suspected to have carried out the 2008 Mumbai attacks in which 160 people were killed. Saeed is believed to have masterminded the strike.
Around 200 Milli Muslim League candidates were scheduled to contest the general elections from a platform called the Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek.
The US state department amended its Foreign Terrorist Organisation designation of LeT in April to add the Milli Muslim League as an LeT alias.
In an earlier statement, the state department had stressed the need to continue the electoral process despite recent terrorist attacks targeting senior Pakistani politicians. Awami National Party leader Haroon Bilour and 19 others were killed in a suicide bomb attack at an election rally in a congested neighbourhood in Peshawar on July 10.
Three days later, Balochistan Awami party candidate Siraj Raisani was among 128 people killed in an attack in Balochistan province’s Mastung district.
The state department’s spokesperson Heather Nauert said such attacks on political candidates and their supporters were “cowardly attempts to deprive the Pakistani people of their democratic rights”.
In a similar statement issued in Brussels, the European Union urged Islamabad to ensure that electoral activities in all parts of the country continue in “safe and secure conditions”.