Islamabad (AFP) – A Pakistani group linked to the deadly 2008 Mumbai terror attacks was denied permission Wednesday to register as a political party just weeks before national polls, officials said.
The Milli Muslim League (MML) was launched last August to contest the July 25 elections, which will be only the second democratic transfer of power in Pakistan’s history.
But the group was blacklisted by the US in April as Washington ramped up pressure on Islamabad to crack down on extremist groups operating in the country.
On Wednesday the Election Commission officially rejected their application to register as a political party.
“The Election Commission of Pakistan today rejected the registration request by the Milli Muslim League as a political party,” spokesman Altaf Ahmad told AFP.
He said that a detailed order would be issued later stating the reasons for the commission’s decision.
The MML was founded by charity Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), a wing of the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).
LeT is accused of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks that left 166 people dead and brought nuclear-armed India and Pakistan to the brink of war.
Six Americans were among those killed during the three-day rampage in Mumbai, when gunmen who arrived by sea fought pitched battles with Indian commandos.
JuD head Hafiz Saeed operates freely in Pakistan despite a $10 million US bounty on his head.
Saeed was declared a global terrorist by the US and United Nations over his alleged role in the attacks and is accused of links to the Al-Qaeda terror network and Taliban militants.
He has denied involvement in terrorism and the Mumbai attacks.
Pakistani officials to begin seizing JuD assets earlier this year, following a vote by members of the Financial Action Task Force — a global anti-money laundering watchdog — to place Pakistan on a list of nations which are not doing enough to combat terror financing.
The task force is due to meet again this month.