The legal debate on Milli Muslim League (MML) has returned. The political face of the JuD and Hafiz Saeed suffered a legal setback, when the Election Commission of Pakistan refused on 11 October 2017, to recognize the MML as a political party. The MML candidate contested the recent election for the National Assembly against Kulsoom Nawaz as an independent. Later this month, there is another election for a National Assembly seat in KP (NA-04); the MML has already announced its decision to contest.
The decision of the Election Commission seems to be influenced by the note submitted by the Interior Ministry earlier. The note said, ““Recent political activities of the group [Milli Muslim League] have also been officially objected at diplomatic level—Ministry of Foreign Affairs has highlighted our international obligations and commitment to national action plan and recommended that Ministry of Interior should take up the matter of registration and activities of MML and its association with proscribed organizations with the Election Commission of Pakistan to avoid any negative consequences for Pakistan and therefore recommended that MML application for registration should not be supported for registration.”
The MML may have lost a legal position with the Election Commission refusing to register the same as a political party, but will continue to fight – both politically and legally. With the decision on Hafiz Saeed due by the end of this month (he is under house arrest), the legal struggle for the MML would be important. If Hafiz Saeed is to be released, then the MML is likely to argue that if the concerned person is free, then why should the registration of the party be questioned? Already, the party has objected being labeled as having links with a “proscribed” group.
The larger issue for the Election Commission and Pakistan would be the political support for the MML. In the Lahore election, it has polled higher than the Jamaat-e-Islami, a registered political party. The PPP’s performance was not that great either. If the MML affiliated independent is to perform better in the forthcoming National Assembly election for the NA-04 seat, it would add further pressure on the judiciary and the ECP on the question of registration.