Islamabad: Pakistan’s Election Commission on Wednesday rejected for a second time an application by the Milli Muslim League, an offshoot of Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed’s banned Jamat-ud-Dawah, to register it as a political party just weeks before the general elections.
The Election Commission of Pakistan was asked by the Islamabad high court to review its decision of last year through which it rejected MML’s registration bid.
A four-member bench of the commission, chaired by its Sindh member Abdul Ghaffar Soomro, decided against allowing the MML to be registered as a political party.
In its short order, the bench said that the decision had been taken in light of observations of the ministry of interior which had expressed its reservations because of the party’s links with the banned JuD leader Saeed.
The interior ministry had opposed enlisting of the MML as a political party, arguing that it is an offshoot of the banned JuD. The MML, however, denied that it had any links with the JuD or that its chief, Saifuddin Khalid, had relations with Saeed.
It said that former ruling Pakistan Muslims League-Nawaz and its leadership was behind rejection of application by the ECP. The MML was launched last August to contest the July 25 elections. Saeed was already campaigning for the MML since last month.
In April, the United States designated the MML as a foreign terrorist organisation, saying the banned Lashkar-e-Tayiba members make up MML’s leadership and the so-called party openly displays Saeed’s likeness in its election banners and literature.
The JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the LeT which is responsible for carrying out the Mumbai attack that killed 166 people, including six Americans.
The US department of the treasury has designated Saeed as a specially designated Global Terrorist, and the US, since 2012, has offered a USD 10 million reward for information that brings Saeed to justice.
Earlier, the first rejection of MML’s application by the election commission was set aside by the Islamabad High Court in earlier this year.
Last month, MML President Saifullah Khalid had said that the basic law of the country gives the people the right to take part in political process and the ECP can not deny them this fundamental right.
“Despite all odds MML candidates will contest from all constituencies in the upcoming general elections,” he had said.