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26/11 Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed's plan to join Pakistan's national politics gets a jolt
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has put the brakes on grand master of terrorism Hafiz Saeed's noxious plan to join Pakistan's mainstream politics through his political outfit Milli Muslim League (MML), which the ECP finally refused (June 13, 2018) to register as a political party in Pakistan.

It is a personal setback for Hafiz Saeed as he was contemplating to play a pivotal role in the country's 13th general elections scheduled for July 25, 2018. However, MML has jointly fielded its candidates under the banner of another political party viz; ' Allaha-u-Akbar Tehreek',(AAT) which is already registered with the ECP.

On 7 August, 2017 some prominent members of Hafiz Saeed-led banned militant organization Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), had formed MML as a political party under the presidentship of Saifullah Khalid who is a religious scholar and longtime official of the banned JuD. MML was inter alia launched to make Pakistan "a real Islamic and welfare state" and if needed, the party would cooperate with like-minded parties.

In September 2017 while the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) refused to recognize MML as a political party in want of clearance from the Interior Ministry due to its links with a banned outfit, the United Statestoo banned the party (April 2, 2018) saying that MML was a political front of the banned terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). However, MML indirectly contested the by-elections in September and October 2017 in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces by supporting independent candidates but failed to win any seats.

Meanwhile, MML continued putting pressure on the ECP to recognize the party and also approached the Islamabad High Court, which in March 2018 had asked the ECP to decide anew on the registration of MML. However, on June 13, 2018, a four-member bench of the ECP decided against allowing MML to be registered as a political party on the basis of the Interior Ministry's adverse report due to MML's links with the banned JuD leader Hafiz Saeed.

Incidentally, Pakistan government through a Presidential Ordinance (February 12, 2018) had declared that any individual or organization which had been proscribed by the United Nations would be deemed as a banned outfit in Pakistan also.

Tabish Qayyum, spokesperson of MML revealed (Karachi, June 14, 2018) that his party had decided to move Supreme Court of Pakistan over dismissal of the party's request to register it as a political party by the ECP, alleging that the Pakistan government under pressure from the Indian government was creating hurdles in the registration process of MML.

However, ECP's refusal to recognize MML as a political party has not detered Hafiz Saeed and his followers from contesting the next general elections due on July 25, 2018. He has decided to field 200 candidates for the national assembly as well as provincial assemblies thorough a dormant but recognized political party named Allaha-u-Akbar Tehreek (AAT), which is registered with the ECP.

However, Hafiz Saeed does not have any plans to contest the elections himself. In the meanwhile Ahmad Nadeem, an MML spokesperson has revealed that those joining in from other political parties especially educated youth from their respective areas would be given priority while allocating tickets for joint candidature of MML and AAT and such candidates would contest the elections on AAT's election symbol 'Chair'. Hafiz Saeed's son Hafiz Talha Saeed also filed (June 13, 2018) his nomination from his ancestral area Sargodha from the NA-91 constituency of the National Assembly of Pakistan.

AAT, under whose banner MML will contest the next general elections, was founded by one Dr Mian Ihsan Bari and is headquartered in the Haroonabad area of Punjab's Bahawalnagar district. After the then federal minister Mian Abdul Sattar Laleka's death in 2004, Dr Bari had unsuccessfully contested the by-polls from Bahawalnagar's NA-190 seat. Dr Bari is an MBBS degree holder from Nishtar Medical College Multan, Punjab University. During his college days he was a prominent student leader of the Punjab University and held several posts including Secretary and Chairman of the Punjab Students Council. He took active part in anti-Qadiani movement declaring them as non-Muslims. In 1975-76 he also played an active role in labourers and farmers movement as Chairmen of Mazdoor Kissan Majlis-e-Aamal Pakistan. Since 1977 he has contested unsuccessfully in a number of provincial and National Assembly elections as a candidate representing various parties. He now heads the "Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek " party, which is registered with the ECP.

Hafiz Saeed has tacit support from the Pakistan Army to plunge into mainstream politics of Pakistan. Hafiz saeed had planned to join national politics by launching MML under an ambitious plan of Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa to bring fundamentalists, especially those fighting for the so-called Kashmir cause but at the same time had no intention of harming any American interests inside or outside Pakistan. General Bajwa had put this plan before Nawaz Sharif during the latter's premiership but Nawaz Sharif had reportedly outrightly rejected General Bajwa's plan saying that it would open a Pandora's box and ultimately adversely affect the country's political scenario. This had also led to friction between General Bajwa and Nawaz Sharif.

Notably, Pakistan Army's support to Hafiz Saeed for joining mainstream politics was expressed by none other than Major General Asif Ghafoor, Director General of Pakistan military's public relations wing, Inter Service Public Relations (ISPR). General Ghafoor in an interview (May 17, 2018, Islamabad) to an English Indian daily 'The Indian Express' had accepted that the Pakistan Army did not have any problem if Hafiz Saeed joined national politics. General Ghafoor had added that since Hafiz Saeed was a Pakistani citizen, anything he did "other than violence" was good. He also added that in Pakistan there was a process for anyone to participate in politics and it was the Election Commission of Pakistan which took the final call on such matters. He had also denied taking any action against Hafiz Saeed saying that there was no evidence against him neither in Pakistan nor in India.

After successfully containing militancy in Pakistan through military operation 'Zarb-e-Azb', (June 2014-December 2016) by former Army Chief General Sharif, the present Army Chief General Qamar Bajwa had a grand anti-India design. He wanted a legitimate public life for 26/11 Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed, who is now leading the most active terrorist group operating in Kashmir by bringing him into mainstream politics. However, General Bajwa's sinister anti-India plan in Kashmir was firstly thwarted by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and then by the US administration under President Trump which placed a ban on Hafiz Saeed's MML, declaring it as a terrorist group. Since US-Pak relations were at the lowest ebb, neither General Bajwa nor the Pakistani government wants to further displease the American government by allowing Hafiz Saeed to join mainstream politics and contest the impending general elections.

It is, however, unlikely that General Bajwa would shelve his anti-India grand plan in Kashmir by bringing Hafiz Saeed into mainstream politics. In the meanwhile, MML is also planning to approach the Supreme Court against ECP's decision against it, exploring the possibility of the judiciary under pressure from the Army extending some favours to ISI stooge Hafiz Saeed, something which cannot be ruled out!

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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