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Hafiz Saeed to rebrand JuD, launch his own political party

Saeed will register the Milli Muslim League Pakistan with the country’s Election Commission, and the party will be formally launched on August 14 in Lahore.

world Updated: Aug 05, 2017 19:55 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Political observers say that Saeed’s party will counter mainstream political parties in Punjab province.
Political observers say that Saeed’s party will counter mainstream political parties in Punjab province.(Twitter)

Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed has reportedly decided to launch his own political party in Pakistan, aiming to rebrand the Jamaat-ud-Dawa as the Milli Muslim League Pakistan, news reports have said.

Saeed — accused of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people — will reportedly register his party with the Election Commission of Pakistan, with an eye on the 2018 general elections. The party will be formally launched on August 14 — the country’s independence day — in Lahore.

Saeed already runs the popular Falahi Insaniyat Foundation (FIF), the JuD’s social welfare arm which runs clinics, hospitals, schools and an ambulance service. The JuD has also started a series of informal courts in Lahore, in which personal and commercial disputes of residents and local businessmen are settled.

Insiders say the name Milli Muslim League is yet to be formalised, but the party has already received the blessings of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

Political observers say that Saeed’s party will counter mainstream political parties in Punjab province and may cut into the vote bank of Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N party. Given the FIF’s welfare work in Sindh, the party may even secure votes in some rural areas of the province, including the Hindu majority division of Tharparkar.

“It is too early to say what happens but a number of seats may be affected by this,” analyst Farrukh Pitafi said.

India has reacted sharply to reports emerging of the Milli Muslim League. External affairs ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay said, “It appears that a person whose hands are stained with blood of innocent lives... such an individual is wanting to hide his blood stained hands behind the ballot ink. The person who traded in bullets to take lives, is he trying to hide behind ballot?”

Saeed was put under house arrest in January after years of living freely in Pakistan, one of the sore points in the country’s fraying relationship with the US. The Punjab government recently extended the house arrest for 60 more days.

(With inputs from agencies)