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Pak govt asks court to deny clearance to Hafiz Saeed’s political party

Dawn newspaper reported that the government requested the court not to consider the Milli Muslim League’s plea and dismiss the petition.

world Updated: Dec 23, 2017 21:38 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad, Hindustan Times, Islamabad
Hafiz Saeed,Pakistan,Mumbai attacks
Hafiz Saeed (C) reacts to supporters as he walks out of court after a Pakistani court ordered his release from house arrest in Lahore, Pakistan November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Mohsin Raza(REUTERS)

The Pakistan government has requested a court in Islamabad not to consider the plea for registration by Milli Muslim League, a newly formed party backed by Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed.

The government said the group would breed violence and extremism in politics.

Earlier this year, a four-member bench headed by the chief election commissioner had said the process of registration of MML as political party could not be completed without security clearance from the interior ministry. The decision was based on the ministry’s directions that the MML not be allowed to register as a political party owing to its links with Jamaat-ut-Dawah, a proscribed terrorist organisation.

But at a rally in December, Saeed confirmed to his supporters that the JuD would contest the 2018 general elections under the banner of the MML.

The MML also challenged the election commission’s order of October 11 that had declined its registration as a political party.

The interior ministry, in its written reply submitted to the Islamabad High Court on the MML’s petition, said it opposed the group’s registration as a political party as the group was an offshoot of proscribed entities.

MML spokesman Tabesh Qayyum told the media that his party will challenge both the election commission’s decision and the letter written by interior ministry to the high court. He said MML will not withdraw its support for independent candidate al-Haj Liaquat Ali Khan in NA-4 by-poll. The poll body had issued a notice to Liaquat for displaying his support for a ‘proscribed’ organisation.

According to Political Parties Order (PPO) 2002, organisations which act in the manner prejudicial to fundamental rights, undermine the integrity of Pakistan, promote sectarian, regional or provincial hatred, bear a name as a militant group and impart any military or paramilitary training to its members, do not qualify for registration as political party.

The interior ministry said in its letter that a security agency had given the opinion that “it is difficult to believe that the MML will tread its own path, completely at variance with its mother (LeT and JuD) organisations.”

“Since registration of such groups would breed violence and extremism in politics, such groups be avoided,” it said.

Hafiz Saeed had walked free on November 24 after the Pakistan government decided against detaining him further in any other case. He was under detention since January this year.

The MML had contested a bypoll in September for NA-120, a National Assembly seat that had fallen vacant following disqualification of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Sheikh Yaqub, MML candidate, had secured 6,000 votes. Yaqub was placed in 2012 on a US Treasury sanctions list of those designated as leaders of terrorist organisations.

First Published: Dec 23, 2017 15:25 IST