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Pakistan panel warns candidate not to use Hafiz Saeed’s image in poll campaign

The Jamaat-ud-Dawah formed the Milli Muslim League, a political party, last month after Pakistani authorities took a series of steps to crack down on the financing of the JuD.

world Updated: Sep 08, 2017 15:02 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Islamabad
Election Commission of Pakistan,Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JUD),Hafiz Saeed
File photo of Hafiz Saeed, chief of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, speaking with media as he is escorted to his home to be placed under house arrest in Lahore on January 30, 2017. (Reuters)

The Election Commission of Pakistan has refused to recognise the Milli Muslim League (MML), a political front of the Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD), as a political party and warned candidates not to use the party’s name in election campaigns.

Election officials also warned “independent” candidate Sheikh Muhammad Yakoob against using images of JuD chief Hafiz Saeed and other leaders of the group in his campaign for bye-elections to the seat in Lahore vacated by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

Yakoob is contesting against Sharif’s wife Kulsoom Nawaz in the constituency under the banner of the MML. The seat became vacant after the Supreme Court disqualified Sharif in the Panama Papers case on July 28. The by-polls are scheduled for September 17.

A spokesperson for the Election Commission was quoted by the media as saying that Yaqoob, an independent candidate, had been allotted a symbol for the polls and action would be taken under the code of conduct for elections if he failed to comply with the returning officer’s orders.

The JuD, described by the US and the UN Security Council as a front for the Lashkar-e-Taiba, launched the MML last month after Pakistani authorities took a series of steps to crack down on the financing of the JuD and another of its front organisations, the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF).

Saeed, the founder of the LeT, and four aides were placed under house arrest in Lahore in January, largely because of pressure from the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force, which counters terror financing.

Despite the US offering a $10 million bounty for Saeed, he continued to live openly in Lahore.

The Election Commission’s warning came at a time when several banned groups are planning to launch political fronts ahead of the 2018 general election.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil, founder of the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM), is set to launch a political party with the name Islah-e-Watan Party. Khalil was declared a “specially designated global terrorist” by the US in September 2014.

First Published: Sep 08, 2017 14:56 IST