Exposing Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's seriousness on combating terrorism, his junior interior minister has vowed to "protect" Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed and his party in a leaked video.
The leaked video showed Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi talking to the Milli Muslim League (MML) leaders and when his attention was drawn towards non-registration of Saeed's party by the Election Commission (ECP) as a political party due to the US pressure and the ECP's plan to declare it a terrorist organisation, the minister said: "We will not let this happen."
"As long as we (the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf) are in the government all those including Hafiz Saeed who are raising voice for Pakistan and righteousness, we are with them," Afridi said, adding "this is our belief."
"I request you to come to the National Assembly and see whether we are supporting those who on the right path or not," he told them.
Saeed was declared a global terrorist by the US and the UN after the 2008 Mumbai attack and was put under house arrest in November 2008 but freed by a court some months later. He carries a $10 million American bounty on his head for his role in terror activities.
In the leaked video, an MML leader said the high court ordered the ECP to register the MML as a political party but the top election body said that it had come to know that the US had declared MML a terrorist organisation.
On this, the minister assured that "this will not happen in the Imran Khan's government."
Saeed launched the MML in August 2017 with a so-called mission to implement the ideology of Pakistan in accordance with the 1973 Constitution.
In April, the US placed the MML on its list of foreign terror organisations for its links with the Lashkar-e-Taiba.
The interior ministry had written to the ECP recommending not to register the MML as it is an off-shoot of Saeed's Jamat-ud Dawah, which has been declared as a foreign terrorist organisation by the US in June 2014.
The JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the Lashkar-e-Taiba which is responsible for carrying out the 2008 Mumbai attack that killed 166 people.
The MML contested general elections on the platform of the "dormant" political entity Allaha-u-Akbar Tehreek (AAT), which was registered with the ECP.
The Supreme Court in September last permitted the JuD and its arm Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF) to continue their relief and charity work in the country.
JuD's network includes 300 seminaries and schools, hospitals, a publishing house and ambulance services. The JuD and FIF alone have about 50,000 volunteers and hundreds of other paid workers, according to two counter-terrorism officials.
Earlier, the government banned companies and individuals from making donations to the JuD, the FIF, and other organisations on the UN Security Council sanctions list.