Pakistan’s banned militant outfit Jamaat-ud-Dawa’s move of launching a political party is “ludicrous” as it has been designated a terrorist group both by the UN and the US, a top American expert has said.
Saifullah Khalid, closely linked to chief of Jamaat-ud- Dawa (JuD) and Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafeez Saeed, announced the formation of ‘Milli Muslim League’ in Islamabad on August 7 following weeks of campaign in Punjab’s provincial capital Lahore.
Khalid said the new party will strive to make Pakistan a “real Islamic state” and demanded the immediate release of Saeed, who is under “house arrest” since January.
“How can a designated terrorist group register itself as a political party and declare ambition to contest in Pakistan’s 2018 national election?” asked Alyssa Ayres, who served in the State Department during the Obama Administration.
“The idea that a UN and US-designated terrorist group long under international sanctions could suddenly march over to the Election Commission of Pakistan and morph into a political party is ludicrous,” said Ayres, who is now Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan and South Asia at Council on Foreign Relations, a top American think-tank.
In 2012, the US had issued a USD 10 million reward for information leading to the arrest of Saeed, the “suspected mastermind” of the Mumbai terrorist attacks in 2008 for which not one single accused has been brought to justice in Pakistan, she wrote in her latest op-ed.
“The Pakistani government cannot expect that anyone will believe claims that it is sufficiently countering terrorism in their country if terrorists under well-known, longstanding international sanctions not only escape justice but shift out of the shadows to the political arena,” Ayres wrote.
The State Department refused to comment on the formation of the political party which will formally be launched on August 14.