Pakistani ‘terrorist’ charity launches political party

Dhaka,  Mon,  21 August 2017
Published : 08 Aug 2017, 21:32:10
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Pakistani ‘terrorist’ charity launches political party

ISLAMABAD, Aug 08 (Al Jazeera): A Pakistani charity designated by the United Nations as a front for armed group Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) launched a political party on Monday, in a move that could see the anti-India group accused of carrying out the 2008 Mumbai attacks, enter mainstream national politics.

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the chief of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) organisation that launched the party, has been designated by the UN as a "terrorist", and the United States has had a $10m bounty on his head since 2012 for his alleged role as the leader of LeT armed group.

Pakistani police have held Saeed under house arrest in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore since January under local anti-terrorism laws. His detention was extended for a further two months on August 1.

The UN sanctions include the freezing of all assets, a ban on international travel, and an arms embargo.

At the formal launch of the Milli Muslim League (MML) party in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad on Monday, party chief Saifullah Khalid was clear that he held Saeed in high regard, although the question of what role he would play in the party remained an unanswered one.

"What role he will play in the Milli Muslim League or in Pakistan's ongoing politics will be seen after Allah ensures his release," said Akhtar, adding that the issue of Saeed's release was high on the MML's agenda.

"[Once he is released] we will meet him and ask him what role he would like to play [in the party]. He is the leader of Pakistan."

Saeed has repeatedly denied any role in planning the coordinated attacks on the Indian city of Mumbai in 2008, which killed more than 160 people.

He also said that his JuD charity is distinct from LeT and has no connection with it.

The US, as well as several international governments and security analysts, however, disagree with that assertion, listing JuD as one of a number of charitable front organisations for LeT, with Saeed listed as the group's leader.
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