WASHINGTON: The US Department of State amended its designation of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) on Monday, identifying Milli Muslim League (MML) and Tehreek-i-Azadi-i-Kashmir (TAK) as LeT affiliates, which makes it impossible for them to register as political parties.

The US Treasury Department also updated its list of individual terrorists, naming seven members of the MML leadership as LeT activists who were acting in MML on behalf of LeT.

The State Department described the MML and the TAK as LeT ‘aliases’ and added their names to its lists of Foreign Terrorist Organisations (FTO) and Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT).

“In August 2017, LeT chief Hafiz Saeed created the MML to serve as a political front for the group. LeT members make up MML’s leadership and the so-called party openly displays Saeed’s likeness in its election banners and literature,” the State Department pointed out.

Monday’s amendments “take aim at Lashkar-e-Taiba’s efforts to circumvent sanctions and deceive the public about its true character,” said Ambassador Nathan A. Sales, the coordinator for counterterrorism at the Department of State.

“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,” he added.

The designations clearly undermine MML’s effort to get itself registered with the Election Commission of Pakistan as a political party and contest the 2018 general elections. It will be difficult for the Pakistani government to ignore the designations and register MML as a political party, as it would be seen as an act of direct confrontation with the United States.

These designations “seek to deny LeT the resources it needs to plan and carry out further terrorist attacks,” the State Department said in a statement issued in Washington.

Concurrently with Monday’s State Department actions, the US Department of the Treasury designated seven members of the MML central leadership body for acting on behalf of LeT: Saifullah Khalid, Muzammil Iqbal Hashimi, Muhammad Harris Dar, Tabish Qayyum, Fayyaz Ahmad, Faisal Nadeem, and Muhammad Ehsan.

Monday’s actions notify the US public and the international community that TAK and MML are aliases of LeT. Terrorism designations expose and isolate organisations and individuals and deny them access to the US financial system.

Published in Dawn, April 3rd, 2018

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