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Aborted Attempt

by Newsweek Pakistan

Sajjad Qayyum—AFP

Extremist groups’ attempt to enter politics in Pakistan may have ended before it could even begin

It is now all but certain—unless the powers-that-be intervene—that the dubious empire of Hafiz Saeed, the internationally designated terrorist currently under house arrest in Pakistan, has come to an end with a process of “mainstreaming” recommended by retired made shipwreck. The Foreign Office, under minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, has declared that Saeed’s Milli Muslim League should not have been allowed to take part in the NA-120 by-polls where it emerged the third largest party, beating out the more traditional Pakistan Peoples Party.

Following-up on a letter forwarded by the Interior Ministry, the Foreign Office was responding to the Election Commission of Pakistan’s query on whether the MML should be allowed to take part in elections. According to the Interior Ministry, “there is evidence to substantiate that Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Jamaat-ud-Dawa and the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation are affiliates and ideologically of the same hue, and [therefore] the registration of the MML is not supported.” In 2008, the U.N. Security Council added Dawa to its list of banned organizations under Resolution 1267 as a “supporting agent of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba.”

Hafiz Saeed and his various “charity” organizations, including hundreds of schools and colleges, are a prime example of Pakistan’s previous attempts to “mainstream” its banned organizations. Coupled with its “charitable” works, the organization’s negative fallout was also endured, such as the running of private courts under “Islamic law.” The state helped further by enlisting Saeed’s enormous donated wealth for the “renewal” of regions depredated by state neglect and local rebels in Sindh and Balochistan. What has been highlighted by a lame-duck PMLN government is the negative consequence of the so-called “mainstreaming” by some elements of the state: instead of de-radicalizing the declared terrorists the process further radicalizes society and undermines the power of the state under Constitution. The “indirect” and “implied” Chinese warning at a BRICS summit earlier this year seems to have been heeded.

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