The announcement by Hafiz Saeed, the mastermind of the 26/11 attack to contest the elections may have been on expected lines. In the words of his own party's chief, Pakistan will now be made a real Islamic state.
Saeed had launched the Milli Muslim League under his trusted aide Saifulla Khalid. At the time of the launch Saeed was under house arrest. However days after his release he announced that he would be contesting the elections in 2018.
The development is worrisome says New Delhi. Top officials monitoring the development closely say that there are a couple of issues that one needs to note down here. Should Saeed win the polls, then it gives him the legitimacy in Pakistan. Secondly it also signals the establishment of a radical Islamic state in Pakistan.
Experts are of the view that with the pressure to act against Saeed increasing, the best way to go about it was to legitimise the man himself. There is very little one can do with a man who has been democratically elected. At the time of the launch the head of the MML Saifullah Khalid had underlined the role of the outfit, but had stopped short of saying what role Saeed would play.
Indian officials say that the role of Saeed was kept under wraps as he was still under house arrest at that time. The writing on the wall was very clear and the timing of the launch clearly indicated what the Lashkar-e-Tayiba had in store.
This is yet another attempt to give the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and the cause of Kashmir raised by Pakistan legitimacy. In the past as well the Lashkar-e-Tayiba has overcome several bans by changing the names of its outfit. It formed the Jamaat-ud-Dawa and termed it as a social outfit when in reality it is the financial wing of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba.
Take for instance the head of the outfit, Khalid. He is an old member of the Jamaat and is part of its central leadership. Today he leads the MML which is only aimed at allowing terror groups access national politics. During the launch he said that this party is being launched to make Pakistan a real and Islamic and welfare state.
Those watching Pakistan closely say that there are clear signals of Pakistan being taken over by such elements. It all began with the conviction of Nawaz Sharif. This was followed by the announcement of the MML and then the release of Saeed.
The MML is also not making any bones about its association with the Jamaat-ud-Dawa. The JuD which is banned for terror funding will work closely with MML as per the disclosure of Khalid. He had said that the MML will maintain coordination with JuD and all other like-minded organisations that hold the ideology of Pakistan... we will offer them our cooperation, and accept theirs.
Delhi says that it would continue to exert pressure on Pakistan through all possible channels. He is an accused in the 26/11 trial and ought to have been brought to justice years back. However Pakistan continues to back him and is now aiming at making him a legitimate citizen of the country, the officer also noted.