Pakistan; Ministry opposes registration of Milli Muslim League with ECP

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Imran Mukhtar
The Ministry of Interior has opposed registration of Milli Muslim League (MML), a political arm of Jamaatud Dawa (JuD), with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

In August, the JuD, which is on government’s watch list and facing sanctions under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) for its suspected militant activities, had announced to enter the mainstream politics on the platform of the MML.

After the formal announcement, JuD leader and MML President Saifullah Khalid submitted an application with the ECP for registration of the MML as a political party — a mandatory requirement under the law. Meanwhile, the MML candidate also contested the NA-120 Lahore by-election.

The ECP, in the light of the application, wrote to the Ministry of Interior on August 24 seeking its comments on the registration of the MML.

The Ministry of Interior in its response to the ECP has said that “there is evidence to substantiate that Lashkar-e-Tayaba (LeT), the JuD and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) are affiliates and ideologically of the same hue and the registration of the MML is not supported”.

The ministry in the letter, a copy of which is available with The Nation, quoting an official correspondence of the ECP said that MML President Saifullah Khalid has claimed that JuD leader Hafiz Muhammad Saeed and he were ideologically affiliated with each other’s organizations — the JuD and the MML.

The ministry informed the ECP that the LeT had been proscribed since January 14, 2002, in Pakistan whereas the JuD and the FIF had been placed under “restrictions” since January 27, 2017, under the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997. The restrictions now have been extended up to January 26, 2018. “They have also attracted sanctions under the United Nations Security Council Resolution No 1267 and have been dealt accordingly,” the letter said.

The ministry responded to the ECP that it had taken up the matter with security agencies. “The reply of one agency is awaited, while the other agency has intimated that indulgence of proscribed/under observation organization in the political process with an aim to win legitimacy is a serious issue, thereby neutralizing the gains of the National Action Plan (NAP),” the letter said.

“Given the clamour, philosophy, outreach and modus operandi to operate, it is difficult to believe that the MML will tread its own path, completely at variance with its mother organization,” the ministry said while quoting the security agency. The security agency recommended that since the registration of such groups would breed violence and extremism in politics, so their registration as an apolitical party should be avoided.

The ministry also informed the ECP that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) has also highlighted Pakistan’s international obligations and commitment to the NAP and recommended that the Ministry of Interior should take up the matter of the registration and activities of the MML and its association with proscribed organizations with the ECP to avoid any negative consequences for Pakistan. The MoFA has recommended that the MML’s application should not be supported for registration.

The Foreign Office told the interior ministry that the recent political activities of the group had also been officially objected at the diplomatic level. The MoFA also reminded that the JuD and the FIF were proscribed organizations under UN Security Council Act 1948.

MML Secretary Information Tabish Qayyum strongly challenged the letter of the ministry and called it “unconstitutional, unlawful and unethical” claiming there was no law to register a political party.

He said that the MML was a political party under Article 17 of the Constitution and Political Parties Order 2002. “The party has already made it clear that it had no relations of any kind with any banned organization, and is not involved in any unlawful activity.” He said that no proof against the MML leadership had been provided to the ECP along with the so-called letter.The Nation

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