Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed has opened the first office of the Milli Muslim League in Lahore, days after the Pakistan government said the group would breed violence and extremism in politics while opposing a plea seeking its registration as a political party.
Saeed has confirmed that his organisation Jammat-ud-Dawa would contest the 2018 general elections under the banner of the MML.
The MML is the offshoot of the banned Lashkar-e-Tayiba and JuD, according to the government.
The MML had challenged the Election Commission’s order in October that had declined its registration as a political party.
Saeed on Sunday inaugurated the office in Lahore’s National Assembly-120 constituency from where a JuD member had contested bypolls in September.
Despite refusal from the interior ministry to register the MML as a political party, Saeed pressed ahead with his plans to take the political plunge.
The Pakistan government has requested a court in Islamabad not to consider Saeed-backed MML’s plea seeking its registration as a political party, saying the group would breed violence and extremism in politics.
The interior ministry has categorically made it clear that the state will not allow mainstreaming of jihad outfits.
Saeed’s visit and opening of political office in Lahore indicate that he has ambitious plans to enter into politics.
During his visit on Mohni Road area adjacent to Data Sahib shrine, he listened to civic problems of people. People welcomed Saeed by showering rose petals on his vehicle in the area. The JuD headquarters in Chauburji also falls in NA-120.
The MML had secured the fourth position with 6,000 votes, double than that of Pakistan Peoples Party and Jamaat-i-Islami combined.
Saeed, who carries a bounty of $10 million (Rs 64 crore) announced by the US for his role in terror activities, walked free on November 24 after the Pakistan government decided against detaining him further in any other case. He was under detention since January this year.
The banned JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the LeT which carried out the 2008 Mumbai terror attack in which 166 people were killed.
Image: Hafiz Saeed walked free on November 24 after the Pakistan government decided against detaining him further in any other case. He was under detention since January this year. Photograph: Mohsin Raza/Reuters