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Pakistan rejects militant group registering as party

Muslim Milli League seen as having strong links to suspected 2008 Mumbai attack mastermind, Hafiz Saeed

Pakistan rejects militant group registering as party

Pakistani head of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) organisation Hafiz Saeed (left) arrives to offer Friday prayers at Jamia aL Qadsia Masjid in Lahore in this Nov. 24, 2017 file photo. (Photo by AFP)

Pakistan's electoral watchdog has rejected a registration application from a newly launched political party linked to the suspected mastermind behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks, Hafiz Saeed.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) said on June 13 that the Muslim Milli League (MML) could not be registered as a political party, without elaborating.

Commission spokesman, Altaf Ahmad, said an official reason for the rejection would be issued at a later date.

However, the rejection occurred after the commission received an Interior Ministry report, which recommended that it turn down MML's application, a government source told ucanews.com.

The ministry firmly opposes the idea of mainstreaming radical groups, the source said.

The MML was formed in August last year to take part in the upcoming general election due to take place on July 25.

Members of the group contested by-elections last year, bagging an impressive number of votes that sounded alarm bells within the government.

The MML was founded by Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), the charity arm of the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which was co-founded by Saeed, and blamed for the Mumbai terror attacks.

The LeT has denied having a hand in the coordinated attacks in Mumbai, which left up to 174 people dead.

The group is also accused of backing militants in India's only Muslim-majority state Jammu and Kashmir, which is also claimed by Pakistan.

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In April this year, the United States designated the MML as a foreign terrorist organization. The State Department also designated seven of its members as foreign terrorists for acting on behalf of Lashkar-e-Taiba.

MML spokesman Tabish Qayyum criticized the commission's refusal to register the group as a political party.

"The report submitted to the commission by the Interior Ministry is a pack of lies," Tabish said.

"Government officials are resorting to unlawful and unconstitutional actions just to appease their foreign masters," he said.

The government was creating obstacles preventing the group's registration because of pressure from the Indian government, he added.

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