26/11 Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed's JuD to contest 2018 general elections in Pakistan

Dec 03, 2017, 13:28 IST | PTI

Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed has unveiled his political ambitions by formally announcing that his Jammat-ud-Dawah will contest the general elections in Pakistan in 2018 under the banner of the Milli Muslim League

Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed has unveiled his political ambitions by formally announcing that his Jammat-ud-Dawah will contest the general elections in Pakistan in 2018 under the banner of the Milli Muslim League, which is yet to be registered with the Election Commission. The banned JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) which carried out the 2008 Mumbai terror attack in which 166 people were killed.

Hafiz Saeed, head of the Pakistani religious party, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, waves on his arrival to a court in Lahore, Pakistan. Pic/AFP
Hafiz Saeed, head of the Pakistani religious party, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, waves on his arrival to a court in Lahore, Pakistan. File pic/AFP

"The Milli Muslim League (MML) is planning to contest next year's general elections," said Saeed, a terrorist leader designated by both the United Nations and the United States. Talking to a group of columnists at the JuD headquarters in Chauburji here yesterday, he dedicated 2018 for Kashmiris. The JuD chief, who carries a bounty of USD 10 million 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.

Saeed is also the vice president of the Difa-e-Pakistan Council, an umbrella coalition of more than 40 political and religious parties that advocate conservative policies. In September when Saeed was under house arrest in Lahore, the JuD entered in the political arena and contested by-poll from NA-120. That National Assembly had fallen vacant on the disqualification of prime minister Nawaz Sharif. Sharif's wife Kulsoom Nawaz had won that seat. JuD-backed candidate Sheikh Yaqoob, who secured 6,000 votes, had announced that the JuD would contest 2018 elections. Yaqoob was placed in 2012 on a US Treasury sanctions list of those designated as leaders of terrorist organisations. The founder of LeT militant group vowed to continue supporting the Kashmiris fighting the Indian forces.

"I want to tell India that I will continue to support Kashmiris no matter what kind of difficulties are there. India wants us to stop raising voice for the Kashmiris. It is building pressure on the Pakistani government. I want to tell Pakistan that back channel diplomacy only caused harm to the Kashmir cause," Saeed alleged. He further said his detention in Pakistan and Hurriyat leaders in India was part of international agenda. "This had been done to harm the Kashmir cause. India is angry over my release from the house detention. I warn India if it does not stop atrocities against Kashmiris then this struggle will rise further and it will face the music," he threatened.

The JuD was declared as a foreign terrorist organisation by the US in June 2014. India had expressed outrage over Pakistan's decision to release Saeed, calling it an attempt by Islamabad to mainstream proscribed terrorists and a reflection of its continuing support to non-state actors. Saeed has now filed the petition to de-list him from the UN list of designated terrorists. He was also put under house arrest soon after the Mumbai attack, but he was freed by a court in 2009.

Nine of the Mumbai attackers were killed by police while lone survivor Ajmal Kasab was caught and executed after a trial.

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