Pakistan seeks to ban party backed by US-named terrorist

FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017 file photo, Sheikh Yaqub, center, candidate of the newly-formed Milli Muslim League party, waves to his supporters at an election rally in Lahore, Pakistan. Pakistan's interior ministry has asked the country's elections overseeing body to ban from politics a new party backed by Islamist Hafiz Saeed, who carries a $10 million U.S. bounty on his head for alleged involvement in 2008 terror attacks in India. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary,file)

By Munir Ahmed, Associated Press
ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan’s interior ministry asked the country’s elections overseeing body to ban from politics a new party backed by Islamist Hafiz Saeed, who carries a $10 million U.S. bounty on his head for alleged involvement in 2008 terror attacks in India, officials said Friday.
The move was seen as a bid to prevent extremists from entering mainstream politics ahead of next year’s elections.
On Friday, Haroon Shinwari, the spokesman at the Election Commission of Pakistan, said they will assess the status of the MML on Oct. 11 when a five-judge panel of the commission will meet in the capital Islamabad.
He said the party had recently sought to register with the commission, but the ministry opposed it over its links to militants.
“So far, the Milli Muslim League has not been registered” with the election commission, Shinwari told The Associated Press.
Shinwari said the ministry earlier this week informed the commission that the MML was linked to the outlawed Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group, which was formed by Saeed, an Islamist accused by India of links to the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks that killed 160 people.
Lashkar-e-Taiba has been designated a terrorist group by the U.S. government and Saeed is currently under house arrest in Lahore.
The MML in a statement denied links to militant groups, adding that it was “not a bus or truck which needs registration.”
Pakistan’s powerful election commission is currently also hearing a high-profile case against Imran Khan, a leading opposition figure in Pakistan, for making insulting remarks against it. Shinwari said the commission will rule on Khan’s contempt case on Oct. 12. Khan says the commission lacks the authority to act as a court.