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LAHORE: The Milli Muslim League (MML) has finalised 80 candidates for the National Assembly and 185 for the provincial assemblies and they all would be contesting under the umbrella of Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek (AAT) since the Election Commission of Pakistan has denied registration to the MML.

According to the list, the party has finalised four National Assembly candidates from Lahore – NA-125, NA-132, NA-133 and NA-134 – and 16 candidates for the Punjab Assembly for the city constituencies.

The party had recently entered into an alliance with little known but registered Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek to contest the forthcoming elections. The AAT is a political party registered with the ECP and its leader is Mian Ihsan Bari who has been allotted the symbol of “chair” for the 2018 election. The party was registered by the ECP in 2011 but could not contest the 2013 elections as it was not allotted election symbol in time.

Speaking to Dawn, Mian Ihsan Bari denied alliance with any party. “The MML announced supporting our candidates which now number more than 300 for next elections. It is not only the MML but another party from Karachi (Pakistan Hamdard Party) that is supporting our candidates,” he said.

All those candidates who would be contesting elections will be member of AAT, not any other party.

“We have our own constitution, ticket-awarding procedure and board. All these candidates have got AAT tickets and other parties are only supporting us. The AAT has also awarded tickets to those who applied from the Hamdard Party platform but they were allowed to become AAT members because we found them better contestants. The same logic and procedure applies to all others who are supporting us in the next elections,” Mr Bari said.

He denied any religious or sectarian affiliation playing role in the process. “These are simple political calculations which all parties have made,” he insisted.

According to Saifullah Khalid, the MML president, this country was created in the name of Islam and they would not leave vacuum for the secular forces.

The MML sources say the nomination papers of these 165 candidates have been accepted and they would be contesting election on the symbol of chair. The MML had recently been denied registration by the election commission on the plea that the party was not cleared by the Ministry of Interior. The MML, on its part, has been contesting the ECP assertion, saying: “NOC by the ministry was not a mandatory.”

Published in Dawn, June 21st, 2018