The Election Commission of Pakistan on Monday directed the Milli Muslim League (MML), the political front of Jamaatud Dawa (JuD), to produce a clearance certificate issued by the interior ministry for progress in its case for registration as a political party.

A three-member bench of the commission headed by Abdul Ghaffar Soomro (from Sindh) was hearing the MML's appeal for its registration as a party.

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) had last month set aside the ECP decision to reject MML's application for registration without providing an opportunity of hearing to it. This was after the interior ministry objected to its alleged ties to banned militant outfits.

The IHC had remanded the case back to the ECP asking it to proceed further on the application by giving the party an opportunity of hearing.

During the hearing, the bench asked MML's counsel Raja Rizwan Abbasi whether he could bring a clearance certificate issued by the interior ministry.

Abbasi argued that there was no requirement for the party to request clearance from the ministry under the Elections Act, 2017.

However, the commission directed the counsel to submit a clearance certificate issued by the ministry or an affidavit addressing the allegations against MML.

The ECP member from KP, Irshad Qaiser, asked the counsel whether the MML had submitted details of 2,000 of its members and Rs200,000 registration fee, which is a requirement to be met in order to register as a political party under the Elections Act.

The MML’s lawyer responded that they had applied for registration in August 2017 when the said law had not been passed.

“We should be allowed to register... [and] the legal requirements will be met,” he asserted.

The counsel also attempted to assure the bench that members of the MML were not "linked to any banned outfit" and that there is no case or complaint pending against any of its party leaders.

Any citizen can get their party registered with the ECP, Abbasi contended.

Before adjourning the hearing until May 2, the ECP asked the MML lawyer to submit a written reply before the next hearing and to bring the clearance from the ministry or affidavit.

The commission also asked the MML to prepare the list of 2,000 members along with thumbprints.

The ECP had refused to register the MML on the interior ministry’s advice as the entity’s patrons, including Hafiz Saeed, had been put on the UN watch list, while his group Jamaatud Dawa and charity wing Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation had also been proscribed through a presidential ordinance.

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