LAHORE: The Milli Muslim League (MML) – an offshoot of Jamatud Dawa – has entered into an electoral alliance with Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek and plans to contest next elections on the symbol of chair which the Tehreek had already got.

According to the spokesman for the MML, his party would have preferred contesting elections from its own platform and on its own symbol but since it had been denied registration by the Election Commission despite fulfilling all legal and electoral requirements, it has no choice but to have an alliance with an already registered party.

The spokesman said Jamatud Dawa chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed would not contest the upcoming election, quelling the rumours of his possible participation in the polls.

“The decision is that he is not contesting the next election,” said Ahmad Nadeem, the party spokesman.

However, he said, the party had finalised more than 50 other candidates for the National Assembly seats and around 150 for the provincial assemblies.

“Applicants are still pouring in after the party invited applications through advertisements in the national press,” he said.

Although the Election Commission has called the party again on June 11 for hearing on its application for registration, the party feels that it would be late for getting election symbol even if granted registration on that date. Thus, it entered into alliance with another religious party, he said.

“The Election Commission, as per its own version, is waiting for a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Ministry of Interior. The MML is questioning the requirement for an NOC. There are more than 350 parties registered with the ECP and none of them required such an NOC. Why this privilege is reserved for the MML only,” he said.

About stalled registration, he said, the party applied for it on Aug 7, 2017, immediately after its formation but the ECP refused to register it and announced its decision on Oct 11. The decision was challenged in the Islamabad High Court on the grounds that the MML was founded as a political party in accordance with Article 17(2) of the Constitution, read with Article 3 of the PPO 2002. But the Election Commission declined to enlist it, without hearing the petitioner’s counsel.

The MML claimed that the ECP had declined to enlist it as a political party on the advice of the Ministry of Interior. The IHC revoked its decision on March 8 and told the ECP to grant the MML audience. The process, he said, is now on.

“The party has contested NA-4, NA-120 and stood third or fourth in winning votes. People would be in for a surprise this time round as well,” he claimed.

Published in Dawn, June 9th, 2018