Hafiz Saeed to contest elections, says ‘back channel diplomacy with India harmed Kashmir cause’
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Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed on Saturday announced to contest next year’s general elections in Pakistan, according to media reports.

Speaking to media in Lahore, Saeed said he would contest the National Assembly elections . He, however, didn’t  disclose details about the constituency he will be contesting from.

News agency PTI reported that Saeed confirmed that his organisation Jammat-ud-Dawah was planning to contest the 2018 general elections under the banner of Milli Muslim League which is yet to be registered in the Election Commission of Pakistan.

“The Milli Muslim League (MML) is planning to contest next year’s general elections. I also dedicate 2018 for Kashmiris who are struggling for freedom,” Saeed said while meeting a group of columnists at the Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) headquarters in Chauburji in Lahore.

The MML was formed when Saeed was under house arrest in Lahore.

“I want to tell India that I will continue support Kashmiris no matter what kind of difficulties are there. India wants us to stop raising voice for the Kashmiris. It is building pressure on the Pakistani government. I want to tell Pakistan that back channel diplomacy only caused harm to the Kashmir cause,” Saeed said.

Saeed also claimed that his detention in Pakistan and Hurriyat leaders in India was part of an international agenda.

“This had been done to harm the Kashmir cause. India is angry over my release from the house detention. I warn India if it does not stop atrocities against Kashmiris then this struggle will rise further and it will face the music,” he said.

Last September when Saeed was under house arrest in Lahore, the JuD entered in the political arena and contested by-poll from Lahore’s NA-120.

That National Assembly seat had fallen vacant after the disqualification of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif by the Supreme Court in the Panama Papers case. His wife Kulsoom Nawaz had won that seat.

Sheikh Yaqoob, a JuD-backed candidate who secured 6,000 votes, had announced that the JuD which has the blessing of Saeed would contest 2018 elections.

In January, Pakistan government had placed Saeed under house arrest for his activities to ‘harm peace and security’. His arrest was extended in April and then again in August before being lifted in November.

Saeed was released a day ahead of the 9th anniversary of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, leaving India and the US fuming, after the Judicial Review Board of Pakistan’s Punjab province rejected a government plea to extend his detention for another three months.

The US sought immediate re- arrest of Saaed, warning Islamabad that there would be repercussions for bilateral ties if it fails to act.

India accused Pakistan of trying to  “mainstream proscribed terrorists. Pakistan has not changed its policy of shielding and supporting non-state actors and its true face is visible for all to see.”

Saeed has repeatedly denied his involvement in the Mumbai attacks and said he is being punished by India and US for “fighting the case of Kashmiris.”

Saeed has now filed the petition to delist him from the UN list of designated terrorists.

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