US designates Pakistani political group as terrorist organization

US designates Pakistani political group as terrorist organization

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The United States has placed a Pakistani political group on its list of foreign terrorist organizations, saying it was merely an alias for a militant group blamed for a deadly 2008 attack on the Indian port city of Mumbai.
The US State Department said in a statement on Tuesday that the Milli Muslim League (MML) had been added to the Lashkar-e Taiba (LeT)’s designations as a terrorist group.
“These designations seek to deny LeT the resources it needs to plan and carry out further terrorist attacks,” the statement read
“Make no mistake: whatever LeT chooses to call itself, it remains a violent terrorist group. The United States supports all efforts to ensure that LeT does not have a political voice until it gives up violence as a tool of influence,” it added.
The Milli Muslim League is controlled by Hafiz Saeed, who has a $10 million US bounty on his head.
Saeed is the founder of LeT which is blamed by the US and India for a four-day militant attack on Mumbai in 2008 in which over 160 people were killed. He has repeatedly denied involvement in the attacks.
An Indian foreign office spokesman in New Delhi welcomed the US decision, saying Pakistan has failed to crack down on militants.
“Terrorist individuals and entities are allowed to change names and continue to operate freely from territory under Pakistan’s control,” the spokesman said, adding, “The designation… highlights Pakistan’s failure to fulfill its international obligation to dismantle terrorist sanctuaries and disrupt terror financing.”
Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has yet to comment on the US measures.
Saeed was placed under house arrest in January 2017 after years of living freely in Pakistan, but a court ordered his release in November 2017.
In October 2017, Pakistan’s electoral commission barred MML from contesting elections, saying it had links to militant groups and could not be registered.
In March 2018, the Islamabad High Court ordered the election commission to register the party.
Pakistan also drew up secret plans last December for a “takeover” of charities linked to Saeed.
Saeed’s freedom had angered the US and India that still insist that Saeed was the main figure behind the attacks that brought the neighbors Pakistan and India to the brink of war.
Pakistan has repeatedly rejected Indian charges that Pakistani “state actors” were involved in planning and coordinating the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

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