ALSO READTo please US, UN, Pakistan admits LeT chief Hafiz Saeed is a terrorist Hafiz Saeed trying to hide behind ballots: India RTI reveals no extradition request with MEA for Dawood, Hafiz Saeed Lashkar, Jaish terrorists enjoy safe haven, roam freely in Pakistan: US Nawaz Sharif vacates official residence, leaves for Murree
Recently, Saeed launched Milli Muslim League political party that is fighting to win the seat of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the National Assembly.
Saeed is one of the most-wanted militant leaders in South Asia who carries a $10 million American bounty on his head.
Though the Election Commission of Pakistan has strictly prohibited the display of Saeed's picture on election posters, but the constituency in Lahore is covered with posters showing Saeed, his visage side by side with the official candidate, Muhammad Yaqoob Sheikh, a senior Jamaat-ud-Dawa leader, reports The New York Times.
Saeed founded - Jamaat-ud-Dawa, which is widely accused of being a front for the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant group that waged the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks and is on the United Nations list of global terrorist groups.
Interestingly, Saeed's candidate, Sheikh, himself was placed on August 30, 2012, on a United States Treasury sanctions list of those designated as leaders of terrorist organisations.
The US Treasury Department said, "Qari Muhammad Yaqoob Sheikh, a member of LeT's central advisory committee, has held several different leadership positions in the group since approximately 2006. Sheikh has served as a leader in LeT's foreign affairs department since 2006, including acting as the department's deputy director of political and foreign affairs between 2008 and 2009. As of mid-2008, Sheikh was also in charge of LeT's Islamabad office, including managing LeT's general operations in and around Pakistan's capital. Between 2008 and 2011, Sheikh ran LET front organizations that were used to raise funds and recruit on behalf of the group. Sheikh ran Falah-e Insaniat Foundation (FIF), a front used by LET for fundraising purposes, from early 2009 until mid-2010, when he was replaced as the FIF head by Hafiz Abdur Rauf.
FIF and Rauf were designated by the U. S. pursuant to Executive Order 13224 on November 24, 2010. Falah-e Insaniat Foundation was added to the UN 1267 Consolidated List on March 14, 2012."
It further added: "As of early 2010, Sheikh was the head of LET's ulema (clerics) wing. Sheikh has also worked with LET's international donors. In late 2006 and late 2007, Sheikh was part of an LET delegation that travelled to the Gulf on behalf of LeT seeking support."
The Milli Muslim League, which says its goal is to unite Pakistan's Muslims across all ethnicities and languages, is not yet formally registered with the election commission, because it submitted its documents only in August, so Sheikh is running run as an independent candidate in the special election being held on Sunday to fill the seat that Sharif was forced to vacate over corruption charges in July, reports The New York Times.
Hafiz Saeed was put in January under house arrest by Pakistan government to keep him from collecting funds for his charity in violation of United Nations resolutions. Pakistan also included the charity on an interior ministry watch list, though it did not ban it.
The New York Times report said that "against the backdrop of Saeed's arrest, many see the Jamaat-ud-Dawa's bold foray into politics as an attempt to gain legitimacy at a time when Pakistan's government is being forced to act against it amid pressure from the United States and groups like the Financial Action Task Force, which tracks terrorism financing".
Muhammad Amir Rana, an expert on jihadist groups who runs the Pak Institute for Peace Studies in Islamabad, Pakistan's capital, told New York Times, "It's clear that the Milli Muslim League is meant to legitimize or camouflage Jamaat-ud-Dawa's actions and avert international sanctions".