Pakistan-based terrorist Hafiz Saeed’s organisation Jamaat Ud Daawa (JuD) has launched a political party — Milli Muslim League (MML). The new party will be headed by Saifullah Khalid but what’s not yet known is whether Saeed will play a key role in its affairs or not. The United Nations has designated JuD as a front for the Lashkar-e-Taiba, a terrorist group founded by Saeed in 1992. Moreover, the US government has put a bounty of $10 million on Saeed who, among other incidents of terrorism, masterminded the 26/11 Mumbai attacks in 2008.
The new political organisation has made forays into Pakistani national politics at a time when its political situation is especially volatile. Here’s a quick look at the MML:
1. MML chief Khalid, at the launch ceremony in Islamabad on Monday, outlined that the party kept Saeed in high regard, but stopped short of mentioning what role he would play. Currently under arrest, we could see the party making an announcement on his role once he is released by authorities, a demand that reportedly sits top on the agenda of the newly-launched party.
2. Khalid is an old member of the JuD central leadership himself and the group’s links to the LeT raise concerns of allowing terror elements access into national politics. The party’s chief has announced that they have made the political party so that Pakistan is made a “real Islamic and welfare state”.
3. The new party submitted its registration to Pakistan’s Election Commission. The registration is required in order to be able to field candidates for elections. Saeed missed the launch due to being under house arrest but his close aide Yahya Mujahid, who has also been put under terrorism sanctions by the UN, attended the launch.
4. The party chief said that MML will closely work with the JuD and the latter’s network of thousands of volunteers. He added that he will also also “maintain coordination with JuD and all other like-minded organisations that hold the ideology of Pakistan… we will offer them our cooperation, and accept theirs.”
5. Security analyst Ayesha Siddiqa told Reuters that the party was designed to cloak the group. This was apparently done due to international pressure on Pakistan to crack down on JuD and Lashkar-e-Taiba. His NGO Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) is declared terrorist by the US.
Khaled Ahmed, Consulting Editor, Newsweek, Pakistan, described the scale on which JuD functions. In a column he wrote for The Indian Express, Ahmed says that the JuD’s Karachi headquarters are spread across 2.5 acres of land. his Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) — declared terrorist by the US — is the largest NGO
in Pakistan and that it had 35 different operations. Ahmed said that JuD’s 2 lakh volunteers across Pakistan were ready to obey all commands.
Saeed is being tried on multiple cases in India but agencies like the National Investigation Agency and the Enforcement Directorate on cases of terrorism, conspiracy, terror funding etc.