US designates Hafiz Saeed’s Milli Muslim League as terror outfit, but does it mean anything for India?

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New Delhi | Published: April 3, 2018 7:31:11 PM

Though MML has created several frontal organisations, US affirmed that it shall remain to be designated as a terror organisation. This move by the US comes just a day after MML was asked by Pakistan's Election Commission to produce a clearance certificate to register itself as a political party.

Hafiz Saeed, Jammat-ud-Dawah, JuD, 2018 general elections in Pakistan, Pakistan general elections 2018,  Lashkar-e-Taiba, Milli Muslim LeagueUS today designated the Milli Muslim League (MML), the political front of Pakistan-based Mumbai attack mastermind-led Jamaat-ud Dawa, as a foreign terrorist organisation.

The United States has designated Hafiz Saeed’s political party Milli Muslim League (MML) as a foreign terrorist organisation today. The move reinforces India’s stance against Pakistan and against several other terror groups operating freely on its soil. The Ministry of External Affairs said that the Government of India had welcomed the action by the United States and also said that India stands vindicated, as Pakistan continues to be a safe haven for terror organisations. Milli Muslim League, is just a political namesake of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a terrorist organisation that was responsible for the attacks in Mumbai in 2008. Speaking to the press, MEA Spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar said, “The move by the United States is also cognizance of the fact that terrorist individuals and entities are allowed to change names and continue to operate freely under Pakistan’s control.”

The State Department of United States’ decision to designate the MML comes as a blow to Pakistan’s attempt to mainstream terror outfits in the region. The decision also thwarts Pakistan’s claim to paint MML as a political organisation. The United States also designated seven members of the MML’s central leadership as terrorists. Another terror outfit called Tehreek-e-Azadi -e-Kashmir was also added to the list of terror organisations. Designating both MML and Tehreek-e-Azadi-e-Kashmir as terrorist organisations, Nathan A Sales, Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the State Department in the United States said that the MML and TAJK were created as a facade of the LeT. The Trump administration has also lashed out at Pakistan for allowing such organisations to operate freely on its soil.

The LeT was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) and Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) group on December 26, 2001. Its leader, Saeed, is also designated as an SDGT. However, MML or Milli Muslim League was founded by Jamat-ud-Dawa Chief Hafiz Saeed in early 2017. Saeed who was under house arrest until November 24th, last year, had also announced that MML would contest 2018 general elections in Pakistan.

But what does this mean for India? This is not much of a geopolitical significance for India, says A.S. Dulat, former Chief of Research Wing & Analysis. Speaking to the Financial Express Online he also added, “Since this is Pakistan’s internal matter, it is the Courts and the judiciary in Pakistan that decides whether it can contest elections”.

The MML which acts as a political arm of the existing terrorist organisation Lashkar-e-Tiaba tries to soft paddle terrorism through spreading Safaist ideas. Though it has created several frontal organisations, United States affirmed that it shall remain to be designated as a terror organisation. This move by the United States comes just a day after MML was asked by Pakistan’s Election Commission to produce a clearance certificate by the Interior Ministry, to register itself as a political party.

Pakistan’s Election Commission had barred MML from contesting the elections, but the Islamabad High Court had ruled out all terror links with MML and had ordered the EC to register the party. Saeed had approached the court after Pakistan started crackdown against Saeed due to international pressure.

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