Political party linked to Jamaat-ud-Dawa claims Washington move violates Pakistan’s Constitution
A political party linked to the alleged mastermind of the Mumbai attacks blasted Washington on Tuesday for violating Pakistan’s “sovereignty and Constitution,” hours after the United States blacklisted the group.
The move by the U.S. comes as the White House continues to ratchet up pressure on Islamabad to crack down on extremist groups operating in the country after suspending military aid to Pakistan in January for inaction.
The Milli Muslim League (MML) was launched last August by Hafiz Saeed’s Jamaat-ud-Dawa—the charity wing of militant group Lashkar-e-Tayyaba.
Lashkar is accused of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks that left nearly 166 people dead and brought India and Pakistan to the brink of war. Since launching, the MML has struggled to officially register with Pakistan’s Election Commission over its links to Dawa. The task is likely to be harder after the U.S. State Department amended its designation of Lashkar on Monday to include the political party.
“[The] U.S. has no right to intervene in Pakistan’s internal political matters and label terror allegations against people who themselves are against extremism,” said MML’s Information Secretary Tabish Qayyum. “Such designations are aimed to undermine Pakistan’s sovereignty and Constitution.”
The decision comes after Pakistani officials began seizing assets from Dawa in February.
The crackdown followed a vote by members of the Financial Action Task Force—a global anti-money laundering watchdog—to place Pakistan on its gray list of nations which are not doing enough to combat terror financing in June.
Saeed, who operates freely in Pakistan despite a $10 million U.S. bounty on his head, has denied involvement in terrorism and the Mumbai attacks.
Six Americans were among those killed during the three-day rampage in Mumbai, when gunmen who arrived by sea sparked battles with Indian commandos. Saeed was listed by the U.N. in December 2008 for being associated with Lashkar, as well as having links to the Al Qaeda terror network and Taliban militants.