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‘Blood Stained Hands’ Plan to Take Over Pakistan’s Political Reigns as Terrorist Organization Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) Prepares to Enter Politics

Is it possible for a terrorist mastermind to establish a political party? Questions and skepticism arise on JuD'S announcement to now enter Pakistani political chambers.

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Radicalization
What motivates children to join terrorist outfits and participate in extremist activities? Pixabay
  • Skepticism grips Pakistan as terrorist organization plans to enter Pakistan politics
  • JuD is alleged as the front for Lashkar-e-Taiba 
  • Party President Saifullah Khalid announced the goals and ideology of the new party at a press conference

Pakistan, August 11, 2017: A Pakistani ‘charity’ organization, designated by the United States as a front for armed terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) has launched a political party in Pakistan, the announcement for which was made on August 7, 2017 at a news conference held at National Press Club. In an interesting shift, the Jamaat-ud-Dawa decided to enter mainstream Pakistan politics from a new platform ‘Milli Muslim League’ (MML) to make Pakistan a “real Islamic and welfare State”.

The parent organization Jamaat-ud-Dawa has been listed as a terrorist organization by the US State Department for over a decade, with its founder-leader Hafiz Muhammad Saeed currently under house arrest for the last six months. The US has also placed a $10m reward since 2012 for any information leading to conviction for his alleged role as the leader of LeT.

Important Announcements by the JuD

MML President Saifullah Khalid said at the conference that Pakistan has been corrupted by those who’re misusing the power to serve their own interest thus reiterating the need to revive the idea of making Pakistan an “Islamic welfare state”. He further claimed that those in power “want to put this country on the path to liberalism and secularism” because if linked interests with the Western world, as reported by Dawn, Pakistan’s oldest and most widely read English newspaper.

Saifullah further announced in the conference that the newly formed MML will have no direct links with the JuD and its leader Hafiz Muhammad Saeed as they were only ideologically affiliated with each other because of their common interest of the betterment of the country.
“Once he is released, we will seek his guidance and ask what role he wants”, he said as reported by VOA.

According to media reports, the MML logo and flag was also revealed to the media IN the conference, who were also told that the Election Commission of Pakistan has been requested for its registration.

Dawn also reported that the MML president stressed upon the importance of women in political positions of the country. Saifullah emphasized that the role of women in societies cannot be ignored as they constitute about 50% of the population.

JuD’s Past Association With Terrorist Organizations

While Jamaat-uḍ-Dawa proclaims itself as a charity and humanitarian organization without any established links to terrorists, it is widely considered a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba, founded by Hafiz Saeed. Saeed is also allegedly the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks (26/11) when terrorists disrupted the functioning of Mumbai city and the country in fact, by coordinated bomb and gun attacks for 4 days killing 166 people, including several international citizens.

While Saeed’s role in the party is yet to be announced, it will be headed by Saifullah Khalid, who is an old member of JuD central leadership himself. This raises concerns of allowing terror elements access into national politics.

It is being believed that Party chief Khalid and the MML will closely work with the JuD with the support of their thousands of volunteers and maintain coordination with JuD and all other like-minded organizations.

JuD’s Alleged Shift from a Terrorist to a Moderate Political Organization

Notwithstanding its formal listing as a ‘terrorist organization’ by the United States, the United Nations and Pakistan itself, the Jamaat-uḍ-Dawa (JuD) aims to enter mainstream politics. Claiming to be a moderate political force, the new Milli Muslim League will be led by Saifullah Khalid.

Analysts and experts on South Asian affairs suspect the intentions and promises of JuD because if their obvious ties to militant groups. The new MML is also suspected to be a tool to mask future immoral activities and an attempt to operate and control the root of all national administration through politics.

Michael Kugelman, a South Asia analyst at the Woodrow Wilson Centre in Washington questions whether JuD or its associates in Lashkar-e-Taiba would cut ties with militant groups. “It is highly unlikely that Hafiz Saeed will sever ties (with militant groups) that have helped sustain his popularity in recent years” he said, as reported by VOA. He further sees the move as an attempt by Saeed to gain legitimacy for his views and ideas by working as a political figure from within the system.

JuD now plans to enter Pakistani politics with their new party MML.
Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, chief of Jamaat-ud-Dawa during talks with the Associated Press in Islamabad, Pakistan in 2012, who is currently under house arrest. VOA

LeT and its Threat to US and Allies

Calling itself an Army of the Pure and Righteous,  Lashkar-e-Taiba, or LeT, is one of the largest anti-India militant groups in Pakistan and has conducted several operations against Indian troops and civilians in Kashmir, and high-profile arracks inside India like the 26/11 terror attacks.

US State Department officials believe the LeT changed its name to Jamaat-ud-Dawa to evade sanctions, as reported by VOA.

According to a US Treasury report published last year, LeT and other associated militant groups continue to pose direct threat to US interests and allies in the region, and continue to fund their functioning from proceeds from illegal activities.

In such a situation, a move to allow leaders with terrorist ties to the political chamber can exhibit increased hostility.

Reactions Over JuD’S Alleged Political Bend

Hassan Askari, a Pakistan-based security analyst said, “If they enter mainstream politics, they will have to change their political style”, as reported by VOA. However, it is still a question as to what extent they will change their attitudes, ideas and ideology that continues to hover over all minds.

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While some Pakistani politicians maintain that banned and disputed organizations should not be allowed to exercise a political role in Pakistan, Saeed Nazir, a retired brigadier who is now working for Institute of Policy Studies in Islamabad hopes for a positive change. “If they are now abandoning militancy, establishing a political party, entering mainstream politics, presenting a soft image, and becoming accountable, that is positive”, he told VOA.

Bushra Gohar, a former Pakistani lawmaker holds strong opinions about allowing Hafiz Saeed and his banned theorist organization into Pakistan’s politics. “This is a grave violation of the National Action Plan and the country’s commitment to peace” she said, as reported by VOA.
She believes the MML will use “a political platform as a cover for its terror activities and networks” further adding that this can only have negative repercussions for the Pakistani political economy.

ALSO READ: Sushma Swaraj Speaks Out On India-Pak Relations, Asks Pakistan to Stop Promoting Terror

Previously, Pakistani opposition political parties has expressed outrage when Masroor Nawaz Jhangvi had won a legislative seat in Punjab province (Pakistan).
Jhangvi is the son of slain founder of Sunni militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi which is also in the US and Pakistani terrorists’ lists.

Kugelman of Washington’s Wilson Centre told VOA that “the bottom line is” that in a country like Pakistan, “it is always possible for a terrorist mastermind to establish a political party.” (VOA)

 


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Pakistan Electoral Body Bars Political Party Due to Terror Ties

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Sheikh Yaqub (C) candidate of the newly-formed Milli Muslim League party, waves to his supporters at an election rally in Lahore, Pakistan. voa

Pakistan’s Election Commission (ECP) on Wednesday rejected the registration application of a newly established political party with alleged ties to a banned militant group in the country.

Milli Muslim League (MML) has been disqualified to participate in the country’s state and general elections.

The electoral commission’s decision is said to be based on a request made earlier by the country’s Ministry of Interior Affairs, stating that Milli Muslim League is a front organization for Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a U.S.-designated terror sponsoring organization in Pakistan.

“The government is vigilant and under no circumstances will allow any political party with a proven record of promoting violence and terrorism to spread their extremist ideology through democracy and political means,” Tallal Chaudhry, Pakistan’s minister of state for Interior Affairs, told VOA.

Saif Ullah Khalid, president of Milli Muslim League, dismissed the election commission’s decision and said the party will take the matter to the country’s judiciary.

Political wing

Milli Muslim League was established in August 2017 as a political wing for the controversial Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), which is believed to be a front organization for the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terror group led by Hafiz Saeed.

Saeed was accused of masterminding Mumbai’s 2008 terror attacks that killed 166 people, including six Americans.

The U.S. government has offered a $10 million reward for information leading to his arrest. Saeed has been reportedly under house arrest in the eastern city of Lahore for the past eight months.

In September, during an important by-election in Lahore, when the National Assembly’s seat fell vacant following the disqualification of then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the newly launched MML backed an independent candidate who finished fourth in the race for Sharif’s seat.

At the time, Pakistan’s upper house of parliament strongly criticized the country’s election commission for allowing JuD’s political wing, MML, to participate in the Lahore by-election.

Some experts were concerned about the emergence of militant groups joining mainstream politics in Pakistan. They maintain that the political trend seen in Lahore’s by-election, where parties linked to militant groups are able to mobilize and generate sufficient numbers of votes within a very short period of time, as alarming.

“There should be a debate on this sensitive issue through social, political and media channels. By allowing militant-based political parties to integrate into mainstream politics, it will only escalate radicalization in the society,” Khadim Hussain, a Peshawar based political analyst, told VOA.

“There are people who believe with the merger of such militant groups into politics, we’ll provide them an avenue to maintain a political presence without leaving their extreme ideologies,” Hussain added.

Army’s support

Earlier last week, Pakistan’s army acknowledged they are mulling over plans to blend the militant-linked political groups into the mainstream political arena.

Some analysts side with MML, arguing the party should be allowed to participate in elections.

“I do not understand in what capacity the election commission has rejected MML’s application to register as a party,” said Ahmad Bilal Mehboob, the head of Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT).

“Did they (MML) break any law? If not, how can you bar MML from entering the mainstream politics when they’re doing it through legitimate ways,” Mehboob emphasized.

Zubair Iqbal, a Washington-based South Asia expert, also raised concerns over the validity of the decision.

“This is how democracy works. … There are some extreme groups, some moderate groups and no one should be stopped because of their extreme ideologies,” Iqbal told VOA. “The extremist groups can be barred from entering into the politics only through people and democracy.”

“Unless these parties and individuals are allowed to participate in the political system they might never change their extreme ideologies and might continue operating underground which will prove to be more dangerous,” Iqbal added.

International pressure

In the past few years, Pakistan has faced escalating pressure from the international community for not being able to crackdown on militant groups enjoying safe havens in Pakistan and launching attacks in neighboring countries.

In his recent speech on the region, U.S President Trump put Pakistan on notice to take actions against safe havens in Pakistan. Pakistani officials deny the existence of safe havens on its soil.

Pakistan is also accused of being selective in its pursuit of terror groups. It allegedly goes after only those groups that pose a threat to the country’s national security, ignoring others that threat India and Afghanistan.

Pakistan rejects the allegations and reiterates its stance of having no sympathy for any terror group operating in the country.(VOA)

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Militant Groups in Pakistan Emerge as Political Parties : Can Violent Extremism and Politics Co-exist?

As Pakistan is holding national and provincial elections in 2018, analysts fear that militant groups will attempt to use the new platform to influence legislation

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In this photo taken Monday, Jan. 30, 2017 Hafiz Saeed, leader of Pakistani religious group Jamaat-ud-Dawa addresses his supporters outside the party's headquarters in Lahore, Pakistan. Police say workers of a Pakistani charity are holding countrywide protest rallies after authorities detained its militant leader Hafiz Saeed who has a $10 million US bounty. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)(VOA)

Pakistan, October 1, 2017 : As international pressure is mounting on Islamabad to do more against militant groups operating from its soil, some militant groups are rebranding themselves as political parties.

“The Pakistan military is allowing militant, virulently anti-Indian groups to enter the political process to enable a vocal political voice against any Pakistani civilian warming relations with India,” Thomas Lynch, a research fellow at the National Defense University in Washington, told VOA.

“The aboveground voices of [Hafiz Mohammad] Saeed and [Kashmiri militant leader Fazlur Rehman] Khalil as political figures will meld with their enduring role as leaders of virulently anti-India armed groups in a way that will further constrain Pakistani political leaders from easily undertaking any moves toward rapprochement with India,” Lynch added.

New party

Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the leader of Jamaat-ud-Dawa group (JUD), which has been designated as a terrorist group by the U.S. and is widely considered a front group for Lashkar-e-Taiba terror group, launched a new political party last month.

Saeed was accused of masterminding Mumbai’s 2008 terror attacks that killed 166 people, including six Americans.

The U.S. government has offered a $10 million reward for information leading to his arrest.

JUD’s newly established Milli Muslim League party came in third in a by-election in Punjab last week, securing more votes than Pakistan’s People’s Party contender did.

Lynch said he thought that without the military’s blessings, the militants-turned-political parties cannot thrive.

“Nothing of consequence inside Pakistan security, politics or economics happens without the Pakistan military’s concurrence, either by direct support or indirect acquiescence,” Lynch said.

“This mainstreaming of longtime militant-terrorist groups led by Saeed and Khalil is of consequence [and] therefore must be supported by the Pakistan military,” he added.

Last week’s by-election was also contested by the Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah, a party of the followers of Mumtaz Qadri, who was sentenced to death after being convicted of murdering Punjab’s Governor Salman Taseer, the same person he was paid to guard.

Qadri killed the governor in 2011 because he advocated for reforms in the country’s controversial blasphemy laws.

The two parties of militants-turned-politicians reportedly secured 11 percent of the total votes in last week’s election.

Increasing pressure

The politicization of militancy coincides with increasing international pressure on Pakistan to take action against militant safe havens in the county.

militant groups
Pakistani protesters burn posters of U. S. President Donald Trump in Peshawar, Pakistan, Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2017. Protesters have rejected Trump’s allegation that Islamabad is harboring militants who battle U.S. forces in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Muhammad Sajjad)(VOA)

Announcing his South Asia strategy, U.S. President Donald Trump last month put Pakistan on notice to stop harboring militant groups that use Pakistani soil to plan and launch attacks against Afghan and U.S.-NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Leaders of BRICS, an economic bloc composed of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, also expressed concerns this month about Pakistan-based militant groups and cited them as a problem for regional security.

Pakistan has long denied that militants enjoy safe havens in the country and has proclaimed itself as a victim of terrorism.

The country’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, however, this week admitted that Hafiz Saeed and Lashkar-e-Taiba were liabilities for his country.

“Saeed, LeT, they are a liability, I accept it, but give us time to get rid of them,” Asif said at an Asia Society event in New York on Tuesday.

Optimism

Some analysts, however, see the new trend of pushing militants to mainstream politics as a good development.

“Unless these parties and individuals are allowed to be a part of the political system, they might never change their way and will go underground, which will be much more dangerous,” said Zubair Iqbal, an analyst at the Middle East Institute in Washington.

The question is: Can violent extremism and politics co-exist? Pakistani-based political analyst Khadim Hussain has his doubts.

“The ‘mainstreamed’ extremist organizations have not publicly revoked their ideology. They have not yet dismantled their militaristic, welfare and ideological infrastructure. This seems to be legitimizing extremist violence in Pakistan,” Hussain said.

Hussain added that ” ‘mainstreaming ‘ and ‘integration’ seem to be a tactic to divert the U.S., BRICS and other regional and international stakeholders’ attention from the core issues of policymaking in Pakistan.”

ALSO READ India slams Pakistan at UN, calls it ‘terroristan’

Lynch of NDU echoed Hussain’s analysis and said it was unlikely that the move would help curb extremism.

“I do not see this move helping to curb extremism in Pakistan over the short term,” Lynch said.

As Pakistan is holding national and provincial elections in 2018, analysts fear that militant groups will attempt to use the new platform to influence legislation.

“These groups will inject xenophobia and extremist views in the body politic if given free hand in politics,” Pakistani activist Marvi Sirmed wrote in an op-ed in Lahore’s Daily Times, urging the state to halt any kind of support to these groups. (VOA)

 

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Now Yogi Adityanath likens Shah Rukh Khan to Hafiz Saeed

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New Delhi: A day after Bhartiya Janta Patry (BJP) leader Kailash Vijayvargiya attacked Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan saying that his heart was in Pakistan, another ruling party politician Yogi Adityanath on Wednesday likened the actor to 26/11 Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed.

“Shah Rukh should understand that if Muslims don’t see his films, he will be on the roads. There is no difference in what Shah Rukh Khan and Hafiz Saeed say,” Aditynath said, hours after Vijayvargiya retracted his controversial tweets following criticism by his party leaders saying that he did not intend to hurt anyone.

Vijayvargiya tweeted on Tuesday asking, “Where was Shah Rukh Khan when 1993 blasts, 26/11 attacks took place, killing hundreds of people?”

He added: “Shah Rukh Khan lives in India, but his heart is in Pakistan. His movies make crores in India, yet he finds the country intolerant.”

Vijayvargiya in his tweets on Wednesday while withdrawing his anti-Shah Rukh comments said that the actor would not have been more popular in India had the country been intolerant. Thus, some people misunderstood his remarks.

“I did not intend to hurt anyone. I retract my tweets,” the BJP leader tweeted.

“These are uncalled for, not correct comments. You cannot compare Shah Rukh Khan or any Indian citizen with a terrorist. This is not the BJP viewpoint,” BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli said disapproving of the statements of both the leaders.

Ironically, BJP ally the Shiv Sena took a dig at the former saying, “Shah Rukh Khan should not be targeted for being a Muslim.”