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Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed’s party to contest 2018 Pakistan election

Sheikh Yaqoob, a JuD-backed candidate, was defeated by ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s wife Kulsoom Nawaz in a parliamentary seat that fell vacant after he was disqualified by the Supreme Court.

world Updated: Sep 19, 2017 00:27 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hafiz Muhammad Saeed speaks with media as he is escorted to his home in Lahore, Pakistan January 30, 2017.
Hafiz Muhammad Saeed speaks with media as he is escorted to his home in Lahore, Pakistan January 30, 2017.(Reuters File Photo)

After an encouraging start in Sunday’s bye-elections to a parliamentary seat in Lahore that was held by former premier Nawaz Sharif, the political party formed by the Jamaat-ud-Dawah has signalled its intention to contest Pakistan’s general election next year.

The Milli Muslim League (MML), which has not been recognised by the Election Commission, came in at third place in the bye-polls, behind the ruling PML-N and the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf.

Sheikh Yaqoob, the independent candidate in the bye-elections who was backed by the JuD, told media that the MML “will field candidates in every constituency of the country in next year’s election”.

In August, the JuD announced it was launching the MML. Yaqoob wanted to contest the bye-elections on the MML ticket but could not do so as the Election Commission is yet to register it as a political party.

Yaqoob was placed on the US treasury sanctions list of designated terrorist leaders in 2012.

“We have got a very good response in NA-120 (constituency). It was our first election and people have welcomed us,” Yaqoob told the media.

“We are here to stay in the political field. People want a party that talks about making Pakistan strong against its enemies – India, the US and Israel – and at the same time helps them in solving their basic livelihood problems.”

The JuD formed the MML after its chief Hafiz Saeed was placed under house arrest in Lahore. Saeed and four aides – Abdullah Ubaid, Malik Zafar Iqbal, Abdul Rehman Abid and Qazi Kashif Hussain – were detained under the Anti-Terrorism Act on January 30.

The JuD was declared a foreign terrorist organisation by the US in June 2014. The US has offered a $10 million bounty for Saaed for his alleged role in the Mumbai attacks.