Posts Tagged ‘MML’

U.S.-designated ‘terrorists’ vow to run in Pakistan elections

April 4, 2018


KARACHI, Pakistan (Reuters) – A Pakistani political party placed on the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations vowed on Wednesday to continue its political activities and participate in upcoming elections.

Image may contain: 2 people, beard

Saifullah Khalid, President of Milli Muslim League (MML) political party, addresses the news conference at Karachi Press Club (KPC) in Karachi, Pakistan April 4, 2018. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

The Milli Muslim League (MML) is controlled by Islamist leader Hafiz Saeed, who has a $10 million U.S. bounty on his head. The group shot to prominence after fielding a candidate in a September 2017 by-election to fill a seat vacated by deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

The U.S. State Department on Tuesday termed MML an alias for militant organization Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), or Army of the Pure, blamed for a bloody 2008 attack in India.

“We clearly state that on U.S. announcements we will not discontinue our political activities at any cost,” MML president Saifullah Khalid said, reading from a statement in Karachi.

“Milli Muslim League will fully participate in the 2018 elections and will field candidates from across Pakistan.”

Saeed is the founder of LeT, which is also on the U.S. terrorist list and blamed by the United States and India for a four-day militant attack on Mumbai in 2008 in which 166 people were killed.

Saeed has repeatedly denied involvement in the attack.

Images of Saeed appeared on MML campaign posters during rallies held in two major Pakistani cities leading up to by-elections last year.

The party was subsequently barred from participating in polls by Pakistan’s electoral commission, a decision that was overturned by the courts.

“We have confidence in our higher judiciary … MML will be registered and it will emerge as a big national party in future,” Khalid said.

Image Credit: Reuters

FILE PHOTO:Saifullah Khalid (2nd L), President of Milli Muslim League (MML) political party, holds a party flag with others during a news conference in Islamabad, Pakistan August 7, 2017. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood/File Photo

Khalid termed the U.S. decision a violation of basic human rights and an open intervention in Pakistan’s internal affairs, asking for the State Department to bring evidence before the courts.

“Make no mistake: whatever LeT chooses to call itself, it remains a violent terrorist group. The United States supports all efforts to ensure that LeT does not have a political voice until it gives up violence as a tool of influence,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement.

Under pressure from the United States, the United Nations and international institutions to crack down on terrorist financing, Pakistan drew up secret plans last December for a “takeover” of charities linked to Saeed.

Saeed has since taken the government decision to court.

Saeed’s freedom in Pakistan, where he holds rallies, has been a thorn in Pakistan’s relations with old rival India and the United States.

Reporting by Syed Raza Hassan; Writing by Saad Sayeed; Editing by Nick Macfie



US sanctions Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan

April 3, 2018

Al Jazeera

Pakistan has come under increasing international pressure to crack down on armed groups allegedly operating on its soil.

Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Muhammad Saeed denies any involvement in armed activity [Mohsin Raza/Reuters]
Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Muhammad Saeed denies any involvement in armed activity [Mohsin Raza/Reuters]

Islamabad, Pakistan – The United States has imposed sanctions on Pakistani political party the Milli Muslim League (MML), the political front of armed group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), designating it and its leadership as “terrorists”, a State Department statement said.

The US added the Milli Muslim League and Tehreek-e-Azadi-e-Kashmir (TAJK) as aliases of Lashkar-e-Taiba, and specifically named seven MML leaders as “terrorists”, said the statement, issued on Monday.

“Today’s amendments take aim at Lashkar-e-Taiba’s efforts to circumvent sanctions and deceive the public about its true character,” said Nathan Sales, the State Department’s Counterterrorism Coordinator. “Make no mistake: whatever LeT chooses to call itself, it remains a violent terrorist group.”

An MML spokesperson told Al Jazeera it would challenge the decision and work to “remove misconceptions” regarding its work.


Who benefits from Pakistan’s loss of US aid?

Rafia Zakaria
by Rafia Zakaria

“Political association is a fundamental human right,” said spokesperson Tabish Qayyum, who was named in the US sanctions list. “This [designation] is against the US’s own position when it comes to democracy … we have always rejected all kinds of terrorism.”

Qayyum, along with party chief Saifullah Khalid and leaders Muzammil Iqbal Hashmi, Muhammad Harris Dar, Fayyaz Ahmad, Faisal Nadeem and Muhammad Ehsan have been added to the US’ list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists.

“We want to remove the misconceptions of the United States.”

Increasing pressure on Pakistan

The US and India blame LeT for planning and carrying out the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which saw at least 160 people killed in a series of coordinated attacks in the Indian port city.

LeT is also blamed for carrying out attacks targeting Indian security forces in the disputed Kashmir region.

LeT founder Hafiz Muhammad Saeed denies any involvement in armed activity but says his group, now operating under the name of its charitable arm, Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), supports the cause of Kashmiris who demand independence from India.


Pakistan releases Hafiz Saeed from house arrest

Saeed was controversially released in November, after a court ordered an end to his house arrestunder anti-terrorism laws, saying the government had failed to prove his involvement in armed activity.

Pakistan has come under increasing international pressure to crack down on armed groups allegedly operating on its soil, including LeT, the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network.

In February, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international illicit financing watchdog, said it would place Pakistan on its ‘grey list’ for failing to do enough to curb illicit financing and money laundering.

MML competing in by-elections

MML candidates have competed in several by-elections since its formation in August last year.

At the time, MML chief Saifullah Khalid said that while Saeed had no role in running the party, he was its ideological leader.

Saeed, LeT and JuD are all subject to UN sanctions, including the freezing of assets, an arms embargo and a ban on international travel.


Two Lashkar-e-Taiba fighters killed in Kashmir raid

Pakistan’s Election Commission had banned the MML from using Saeed’s image in any election banners or campaign materials, a ban the party has regularly flouted. The party’s official registration with the Election Commission remains disputed. 

In February, Pakistan began seizing hospitals and other facilities operated by the JuD, after expanding restrictions placed on the group.

It is unclear, however, if the seized assets are still being operated by JuD.

Asad Hashim is Al Jazeera’s Web Correspondent in Pakistan. He tweets @AsadHashim.


Freed Pakistani Islamist Mastermind of the Bloody 2008 Assault on Mumbai, Starts New Freedom With Verbal Attacks on India, Pakistan’s Former PM

November 25, 2017


LAHORE/ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – A newly freed Pakistani Islamist accused of masterminding a bloody 2008 assault in the Indian city of Mumbai called ousted former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif a “traitor” on Friday for seeking peace with neighbor and arch-foe India.

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Hafiz Saeed speaks with supporters after attending Friday Prayers in Lahore, Pakistan November 24, 2017. REUTERS/Mohsin Raza

The release of Hafiz Saeed from house arrest raised fresh questions as to whether Saeed might enter politics to run a new, unregistered political party founded by his supporters.


India and the United States expressed concern at his release, calling for Saeed to be prosecuted over the Mumbai attack that killed 166 people, including Americans.

Saeed, who has a $10 million U.S. bounty on his head, spoke at Friday prayers in a mosque in the city of Lahore after being freed from house arrest by a court that said there was no evidence to hold him.

Saeed was placed under house arrest in January while Sharif was still prime minister, a move that drew praise from India, long furious at Saeed’s continued freedom in Pakistan.

In July, a Supreme Court ruling disqualified Sharif from office over a corruption investigation, though his party still runs the government with a close ally as prime minister.

Saeed, however, said Sharif deserved to be removed for his peace overtures with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“Nawaz Sharif asks why he was ousted? I tell him he was ousted, because he committed treason against Pakistan by developing friendship with Modi, killers of thousands of Muslims,” Saeed said.

India’s Ministry of External Affairs condemned Saeed’s release, saying it showed Pakistan was not serious about prosecuting terrorists.

A U.S. official said Washington was “deeply concerned” about the release.

“The Pakistani government should make sure that he is arrested and charged for his crimes,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.


Saeed has repeatedly denied involvement in the 2008 Mumbai violence in which 10 gunmen attacked targets in India’s largest city, including two luxury hotels, a Jewish center and a railway station.

The assault brought nuclear-armed neighbors Pakistan and India to the brink of war.

“I’m happy that no allegation against me was proved,” Saeed told supporters after his release, according to a video released by the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) Islamist charity, which he heads.

The United States says the JuD is a front for the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant group, which Saeed founded and which has been blamed for a string of high-profile attacks in India.

Pakistan officially banned the Lashkar-e-Taiba in 2002.

Saeed blamed India for his incarceration in Pakistan, saying “Pakistan’s rulers detained me on the aspiration of Modi because of their friendship with him”.

Saeed has long campaigned in support of Muslim separatists in the Indian-ruled portion of the divided Himalayan region of Kashmir, which Pakistan also claims.

India accuses Pakistan of supporting the LeT and other separatists battling in the Indian part of Kashmir. Pakistan denies that.

While Saeed was under house arrest, his JuD charity launched a political party, the Milli Muslim League (MML), which has won thousands of votes in by-elections.

Senior government and retired military figures say the party has the backing of Pakistan’s powerful military. The military denies any direct involvement in civilian politics.

MML officials have privately said that the party is controlled by Saeed, but it is not clear if Saeed will seek to contest elections or launch a political career.