A Pakistan minister is seen saying in a video he will "protect" Hafiz Saeed, who is accused of planning the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, contradicting Prime Minister Imran Khan's avowed policy of fighting terrorism.
The leaked video shows Shehryar Afridi, minister of state for the interior, talking to Milli Muslim League (MML) leaders. When he is told about Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had refused to register Saeed's party under US pressure, Afridi says: "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 says in the undated video.
"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 says.
The US and the UN declared Saeed a global terrorist after the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Pakistan put him under house arrest in November 2008 but a court freed him some months later. He carries a USD 10 million American bounty on his head for his role in terror activities.
India has demanded Pakistan arrest Saeed, founder of the Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorist group, and try him in the Mumbai attack case.
In the leaked video, an MML leader says a high court ordered the Election Commission 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 (JuD), 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.