Hafiz Saeed’s political party opposes PML-N’s Kulsoom Nawaz in NA-120 by-election

  • MML leaders deny having a direct link with the JuD or its chief
  • Ex-PM Nawaz Sharif blamed for derailing the Kashmir cause at MML’s first public rally

ISLAMABAD – Milli Muslim League (MML), the newly formed political party of Jamaatud Dawa (JuD), has announced it would oppose the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s candidate in the by-poll for National Assembly constituency NA-120 (Lahore) that fell vacant after Nawaz Sharif’s ouster by the Supreme Court in the wake of Panama leaks.

The Jamaatud Dawa leadership had last week entered politics with a new party.

During its first public rally on Monday in the capital city, the MML leaders expressed their support for JuD leader Hafiz Saeed who is currently placed under house arrest. At the time of its launch about a week ago, MML leaders had said that the new party would not have a direct link with the JuD or Mr Saeed.

MML will be registered with the Election Commission of Pakistan in the next couple of days and its official announcement is likely to be made on Friday. The proposed party will hold its first mass meeting in Islamabad on August 14 – Pakistan’s Independence Day – to show its strength.

Speakers at the Independence Day rally criticised the former prime minister for what they called putting Mr Saeed in illegal confinement. They also announced their opposition to Kulsoom Nawaz, who is contesting the by-election for NA-120 seat.

Justifying the opposition to Kulsoom Nawaz’s candidacy, MML leader Prof Hafiz Abdul Rauf said: “We are fighters and prefer tough challenge that is why we chose the most difficult path during rescue work at various fronts – we would have preferred if there would have been a male candidate from your family.”

“But since men in the family are on the run – we will not allow – ‘Apa jee’ to get a walkover, we respect her but political opposition cannot be ignored,” he added.

Rauf alleged that the former premier tried to put Saeed on the Fourth Schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 “perhaps on account of his friendship with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi”.

He further alleged Nawaz Sharif was not accepting the verdict of the apex court for his ouster.

“We expect the kind of attitude against us from the US and India but the treatment meted out to us under your regime was nothing short of treachery with the people of Kashmir, which is actually deviating from the vision of Quaid-i-Azam,” he added.

He also blamed the former prime minister for derailing the Kashmir cause.

According to the party leaders, “The Milli Muslim League will act as separate entity from that of Jamaatud Dawa and take part in general and local bodies’ polls whenever they will be held in Pakistan.”

JuD enjoys following of thousands of people in different parts of the country although it has been banned as a terrorist group in Pakistan since 2015. Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed had been placed under house arrest on January 31 for 90 days. Subsequently, his house arrest was extended for another three months.

On July 27, it was further extended for 60 days through a notification by the Punjab government. Dawa has recently started activities under the banner of Tehreek-e-Azadi Jammu & Kashmir but a month ago, the group was also put in the list of prescribed organisations by the Ministry of Interior.

The party leadership believes it can get major support from the areas in Punjab’s districts of Kasur, Gujranwala and Sheikupura. It is likely the head of FIF, Hafiz Abdur Rauf, will act as president of the MML.