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Friday, October 19, 2018
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Coming on the heels of the 37-nation Financial Action Task Force (FATF) meeting in Paris last month that put Pakistan under watch list for terror financing, the Islamabad High Court set aside the Election Commission’s rejection of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD)’s application for the registration of its Milli Muslim League (MML) as a political party. The High Court thus paved the way for the MML to fight general elections later this year. The Court apparently showed no sensitivity to the embarrassment Pakistan has been facing mainly because of Hafiz Saeed’s JuD since the FATF Pains meeting. Right thinking people in Pakistan are greatly dismayed.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had rejected JuD’s application on October 10 last year in compliance with Federal Governments letter telling it not to register the MML as a political party because of its connections with organisations banned under Pakistan Security Council Act 1948. While rejecting the application for MML’s registration the ECP said it (Registration) will go against the constitution and the law.

Three days before the Islamabad High Court’s order to the ECP, the Lahore, High Court had ordered the Punjab government not to arrest Hafiz Saeed who had pleaded the government was under pressure of the United States and India to re-arrest him. In November last year the Lahore high Court had ordered his release from house arrest under which he had been since January 31.

Those Pakistanis who are dismayed at the Islamabad High Court’s order to the ECP cannot pretend ignorance of the powers in the country who have been building up Hafiz Saeed to the Pakistan’s top political figure while keeping his terror paraphernalia flourishing. His house arrest (January – November, 2017) could be one can on ............ for building him up. Strongly, his patron, the Army, had supported the hose arrest. In an article in the Friday Times, Dr.Aysh Siddiqui wrote about it saying: “An effort was made to change Saud’s image overnight from someone associated with a militant outfit to that of a religious but a noble man, a Muslim version of Santa claims who went around distributing welfare.

Dr. Sidiqu’s perception was correct although till the writing of her article Saeed’s idea of launching a political party and become a politician was not in public knowledge. His party, MML’s president Saifullah Khalid is very confident that ECP will register it and the party will fight the elections. The party has its manifesto ready to be released on Pakistan Day, March 23. On that day 78 years ago (1940) in Lahore Muslim League’s President Mohammad Ali Jinnah announced his party’s two-nation theory, which came to be called Pakistan’s ideology by Islamists after the birth of that country. Khalid said the verdict of the Islamabad High Court was a victory of this ideology thus indicating the plank of his party’s programme. He said the party will field candidates for all the national and Provincial Assemblies sets. These candidates must believe in supporting Kashmir freedom struggle”. One can imagine how many crores of rupees the JuD will need to fight for all the National and Provincial Assemblies seats. But it does not seem to bother about freezing of its accounts.

But is the JuD comfortable with Pakistan’s constitution? There is no reason not to be. This constitution has an amphibians character: it satisfy secularists like the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and rabid fundamentalists like Jamaat-i-Islam: and Jamaat-ul-UIlema-i-Islam (JuI). In one place it provides for human rights and equality of all Pakistan citizens and in another it .............. For example, no non-Muslim is equal enough to Muslims to become the President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

In pursuance of President Mamnoon Hussain’s ordinance of February 09 which included individuals and organisations in the United Nations Security Council’s list of proscribed entities, the assets of JuD and its subsidiary Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF) were seized. The government announced the seizure of juD’s assets with a fanfare. But as newspaper reported the government deployed very free of officials to take over twice assets. The takeover was a highly publicised drama in fact an eyewash. The “Nation” of Lahore, in an investigative report wrote that the sheer scale and diversity of JuD’s charities made difficult for the government to even run the network, let alone track and take control of all its sources of income and funding. The network includes more than 300 madarsas, schools, hospitals, a publishing house and ambulance services. The paper quoted Punjab government officials to say that they had not yet drawn up plans on how to run the network. At the 200-acre headquarters in Muridke, just outside Lahore, the government has appointed only an administrator, two school principles one doctor, and five policemen. British news agency Reuters quoted terrorism expert Asif Jamaal, the author of “call for transitional Jihad: Lashkar-e-Taiba 1985-2014” as saying patience had run out with Pakistan’s double game, and doubted the takeover of JuD and FIF would succeed in heading off further action.

Hafiz Saeed has strongly reacted to the takeover of JuD’s assets under, what he alleges, pressure from the United States and India. He said the government was making nuclear armed Pakistan an American colony. On March 10 he challenged in the Islamabad High Court Presidential ordinance following which JuD’s assets were taken over. In the meantime, Saeed and other JuD and FIF leaders continue to operate from their supposedly seized offices thus trivialising the government’s claims. In fact, nothing much has been changed by the Presidential ordinance.

If ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s diatribe against the judiciary are to be believed we can ............ who told the Islamabad high Court to set aside the ECP’s rejection of JuD’s application to register its Milli Muslim League as a political party. Now it appears very certain that the MML will participate in the coming general elections. Jud’s distrust in democracy will not pull back MML from swearing by the 1973 constitution. Jamaat-i-Islami and Jamiat-ul-Ulema-i-Islam (JuI) are on record as having described democracy as an un-Islamic system imposed on Pakistan by the West yet they swear by 1973 constitution and fight elections under it.

Keeping the electoral fate of Jamaat-i-Islami, JuI and other Islamic groups in the past in mid one may like to keep one’s fingers crossed about the voters-choice on the ................ about MML. Its President Saifullah Khalid has explained the party’s election strategy. He says (1) the party will fight for all National and Provncial Assemblies Seals, (2) candidates will have to bear electioneering expenses and (3) they must enjoy personal vote bank in their constituencies. With this strategy and the Army’s support MML is sure to make its impact in the next National and Provincial Assemblies and Saeed is sure to be transfigured into a political saint, UN Security Council should take note of it were the Financial Action Task Force meets again in June. ... More
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