–State minister for interior rejects vow in ‘leaked’ video, calls it two years old
ISLAMABAD: A video making rounds across the internet showed Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Khan Afridi assuring leaders of the MML – the political façade of the Hafiz Saeed-led Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) – “full support” of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
In the video which was reportedly recorded a few months ago, he can be heard vowing to protect the organisation when his attention is drawn towards the issue pertaining to the party’s non-registration by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) “due to pressure from the United States (US)”.
“We will not let this happen. As long as we [the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf] are in the parliament, Hafiz Saeed and all those raising their voice for Pakistan and righteousness will be supported,” Afridi was heard as saying, adding “this was their belief”.
“I request you to come to the National Assembly and see if we are supporting those who are on the right path or not,” the minister said.
The video further showed an MML leader saying that the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had ordered the ECP to register MML as a political party, but the election watchdog was saying it had come to know the US has declared MML as a terrorist organisation.
To this, the minister reiterated that “PTI will not let it happen”.
With the video being deemed “leaked” by social media users and eyebrows being raised over the interior minister’s statements, Shehryar Afridi clarified it was an “old video” as the meeting took place some two years ago.
“Now that I have been handed the reins of the Interior Ministry, I have realised the sensitivity of the matter,” Afridi said while speaking to Pakistan Today.
Afridi later rejected claims regarding the video, expressing concerns over its release at a time “crucial for the entire country”.
He expressed concern over the release of the video at a time “crucial for the entire country” and said it was regrettable how media outlets mistook it as a recent one. “The MML leaders are under house arrest and the government is determined to comply with the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) guidelines at all costs,” the minister added.
It may be noted that MML was launched in August 2017, just over a year ago, with a “mission to implement the ideology of Pakistan in accordance with the 1973 Constitution”. The US sanctions discussed in the footage were put in place in April this year.
In April 2018, the US placed the party on the “list of foreign terror organisations” for its alleged links with the banned Lashkare Taiba.
The Ministry of Interior had written to the ECP recommending not to register MML as it was an offshoot of JuD. The MML had contested the 2018 general elections on the platform of the Allahu Akbar Tehreek (AAT).