LAHORE: The Milli Muslim League (MML), the political front of the Jamaatud Dawa (JuD), has launched an aggressive campaign to ensure victory of the independent candidate Sheikh Yaqub in the by-election in NA-120.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday refused to recognise MML as a legitimate political party and warned electoral candidate Sheikh Yaqub against using the party’s name and photo of JuD Chief Hafiz Saeed to promote his election campaign.
The ECP took notice of JuD chief’s pictures and the insignia of the MML displayed on the banners used in Yaqoob’s election campaign.
However, supporters of Yaqub wearing vests bearing the MML’s insignia have launched an organised door- to-door campaign in addition to canvassing on main roads, link roads and thoroughfares of NA-120.
The party workers are seen distributing badges and pamphlets of Milli Muslim League and badges of Sheikh Yaqub bearing pictures of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Hafiz Saeed on Queens Road, Abbott Road and Temple Road.
Moreover, they are actively distributing pamphlets highlighting MML’s ideology and mission. MML’s campaign office on Abbott Road has installed a screen that plays national songs and speeches of Hafiz Saeed.
Muhammad Akram, an active MML worker while campaigning for Sheikh Yaqub outside the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) Central office near Shimla Hill said his party-backed candidate Sheikh Yaqub will win elections.
“God willing, our candidate Sheikh Yaqub will be victorious on September 17. We are on a house to house and an on road campaign in NA-120. Our hard work will bear fruit”.
Another party worker, Muhammad Imran expressed satisfaction over the campaign. “Even PML-N leader Saad Rafique has admitted that he has never witnessed such an organised election campaign.”
On the other hand, MML Spokesperson Tabish Qayaum stated that his party-backed candidate Sheikh Yaqub has submitted a reply to the returning officer of NA-120 for using the picture of Hafiz Saeed to promote his election campaign.
“Sheikh Yaqub has pleaded before the returning officer that the honorable Supreme Court of Pakistan has acquitted Hafiz Saeed and there was no case against him in any court of law. On the other hand, picture of a person (a clear reference to ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif) who has been held guilty by the five-member bench and disqualified is being used in the campaign of electoral candidate.”
Tabish further said, “Sheikh Yaqub has also prepared to move the Lahore High court against ECP’s ban on using photo of Hafiz Saeed.”
Regarding ECP’s non-recognition of MML as a legitimate political body and running campaign for Sheikh Yaqub, Tabsih said that the process of scrutiny of political parties has been initiated by the ECP. “During a meeting between the party leadership and the ECP high ups on September 11, the ECP officials questioned the link between the MML and JUD. It has subsequently sought a reply from the Ministry of Interior. The ministry has remained silent on the issue until now. The ECP has set September 25 as the deadline for interior ministry to submit its reply”.
The by-elections for the National Assembly seat that fell vacant due to the disqualification of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif as MNA are scheduled to be held on September 17.
The JuD has not been designated as a terrorist organisation in Pakistan, It has, in fact, been on its terror watch-list for several years while the ECP has restrained Sheikh Mohammad Yaqoob from displaying photos of the proscribed organisation’s leaders on banners for electioneering purposes.
The JuD launched the MML last month but the ECP warned Sheikh Yaqub against using Milli Muslim League’s logo.