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Wednesday Oct 11 2017

ECP dismisses MML's plea to register as political party

Mohammad Yaqoob Sheikh (C) nominated candidate of political party Milli Muslim League (MML), waves to his supporters during an election campaign for the National Assembly NA-120 constituency in Lahore, Pakistan September 9, 2017. Photo: Reuters 

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday dismissed the request of Milli Muslim League (MML), the political front of the Jamaat-ud-Daa'wa (JuD), to register as a political party.

Sources said the decision was based on the Interior Ministry's directions that the MML not be allowed to register as a political party owing to its links with a banned outfit. 

Earlier on Wednesday, an ECP bench headed by Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retd) Sardar Raza Khan had reserved the decision on the matter.

The ECP had told MML counsel Advocate Raja Abdur Rehman that the letter written by the Interior Ministry objecting the registration says the party is associated with a proscribed outfit. 

To this, Rehman replied that no party member has any association with any proscribed outfit and that the party has fulfilled all legal requirements for registration.

The ECP wondered why the party is not approaching the ministry regarding the issue, to which the MML asked under what law should the party approach the Interior Ministry.

The Ministry of Interior in September wrote to the ECP conveying its objection to the candidature of MML nominee Mohammad Yaqoob Sheikh in the NA-120 by-election.

Sheikh is affiliated with Jamaat-ud-Daa'wa (JuD) and his party has been registered under a new name to contest the election, the letter read.

The JuD is under scrutiny after the Interior Ministry listed in the Second Schedule of the ATA 1997 in January this year.

Sheikh independently contested the NA-120 by-election in Lahore last month on the electoral symbol of an 'energy saver', bagging 5,822 votes — securing the number four position.

Though he lost to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz candidate Kulsoom Nawaz, the gaining of almost 6,000 votes by a first-time candidate surprised analysts.

“Recent political activities of the group [Milli Muslim League] have also been officially objected at diplomatic level — Ministry of Foreign Affairs has highlighted our international obligations and commitment to National Action Plan and recommended that Ministry of Interior take up the matter of registration and activities of MML and its association with proscribed organisations with the Election Commission of Pakistan to avoid any negative consequences for Pakistan and therefore recommended that MML application for registration should not be supported for registration,” read the content of the letter the Interior Ministry wrote the ECP.

“The Ministry of Interior has taken up the issue with security agencies. The reply of one agency is awaited; while the other agency has intimated that indulgence of proscribed/under observation organisation in the political process with an aim to win legitimacy is a serious issue, thereby neutralising the gains of the National Action Plan. Given the clamour, philosophy, outreach and modus operandi to operate, it is difficult to believe that the MML will tread its own path, completely at variance with its mother organisation. In view of the above, the registration of MML is not supported,” read the letter exclusively made available with The News.


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