Milli Muslim League (MML), which enjoys the approval of the chief of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET), Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, finds itself in hot waters. The latest amendments of the US Department of State in the designation of LeT, identifying MML as LeT affiliate, will make it almost impossible for MML to register itself as a political party with Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). To make the case even worst for the party, the State Department has also included seven of its members to the list of individual terrorists.
Only a day before the list was updated, ECP directed MML, the supposed political front of Jamat-ud-Dawa, to produce a clearance certificate from Interior Ministry so that no hurdles are encountered in the process of registration. The interior ministry already took pre-emptive measure against JuD’s effort to get a political space. While ECP has adjourned the hearing of MML’s case until May 2, the latest American amendments declaring MML as affiliates of LeT will make it difficult for MML to get clearance from the Ministry.
Despite the earlier refusal by the ECP to register MML as a political party, directions issued by Islamabad High Court (IHC) compelled the commission to give the party a chance of hearing. The most recent move by the US officials is a blowback to military’s efforts to mainstream militant groups. While military considers mainstreaming such organisations as the only way of keeping them away from engaging in terrorist activities, the political analysts see such a proposal as playing with fire.
In the midst of all such confusion, whether MML has the right to operate as a political party or not, the party continues to field candidates in by-elections and hold rallies. The party has shown its approval of Hafiz Saeed and his message. The party is supportive of his activities. Such public display of affection for a proscribed individual is more than enough reason for Interior Ministry to be wary of party’s future plans. According to a report of one security agency, “it is difficult to believe that MML will tread its own path, completely at variance with its mother (LeT and JuD) organisations,” adding that, therefore, the agency “recommended that since registration of such groups would breed violence and extremism in politics, such groups be avoided.”
Considering the recommendation of the security agency and the latest pronunciation of the State Department should push the government into making a decisive decision on the future of MML.