The electoral commission rejected the MMl’s application to register as a new party on the grounds the group has links with militant groups.
Pakistan Bars Militant-Linked Group From Forming New Party
Pakistan’s electoral commission on Wednesday rejected the registration of Milli Muslim League (MML) as an official political party due to the group’s links with militant groups.
The election commission cited an interior ministry recommendation that the MML was "affiliated" with Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT), a militant group blamed for the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people, and that such groups could breed violence and extremism in politics.
Reuters reported that the LeT founder Hafiz Saeed has been deemed a terrorist by the United States and has a US$10 million USD bounty on his head.
Haroon Khan, a spokesman for the commission, said a four-man panel rejected the registration of MML as an official political party.
Khan said Muhammad Raza Khan, chief of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), told MML's lawyer at the final hearing of the registration that the new party has links with militant groups and as such "We can't enlist you."
Saeed, currently under house arrest, heads the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) Islamist charity, which Washington says is a front for LeT, reported Reuters.
Pakistan's reluctance to press charges against him has been a sore point in relations with Washington and India over the past decade.
Saifullah Khalid, the head of MML, said his party would challenge the decision. "An attempt is being made to keep patriotic forces away from politics," he said.
Reuters reported that the party is likely to continue operating unofficially, as it did last month when one of its leaders contested a by-election in the eastern city of Lahore as an independent candidate.
The candidate, Yaqoob Sheikh, won several thousand votes, though officials from MML and JuD ran his campaign. Saeed's portraits adorned posters promoting Sheikh.