Hafiz Saeed, the mastermind behind the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, has started a new party with an eye on the 2018 elections. Photo/AFP/Files
Hafiz Saeed, the alleged mastermind behind the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. Photo: AFP

Over a thousand Muslim clerics and imams in India have sought United Nations action against Pakistan-based alleged terrorist and Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Muhammed Saeed for his anti-India and anti-Islamic activities.

In a resolution approved at a gathering in Mumbai on Wednesday, they also expressed concern over the threat that Saeed may pose to the world community if he and his political group ever win elected office and gain possession of nuclear arms.

Their fears are relevant since reports last week that Saeed plans to enter politics by floating a new party known as Milli Muslim League (MML).

The resolution was passed by clerics and imams to draw world attention against the mastermind behind the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks and aimed to embarrass both Pakistan and professed secularists in India who support Kashmiri separatists to score political points against the federal government.

The resolution, a copy of which has been sent to India’s prime minister’s office, says Hafiz Saeed and the various terror outfits he reportedly heads are a threat to global peace worthy of UN action.

JuD and 64 other Pakistan-based terror outfits have long bid to defame India for its treatment of contested areas in Kashmir by staging suicide attacks against innocent people. The UN should globally ban these groups, the resolution said.

Taking a stand aimed at shaming apologists of Kashmiri militancy, it also said Kashmir is an internal matter of India which should be sorted out by Indians and not by international third parties.

Bombings are not permissible in Islam, noted Abdur Rahman Anjaria, head of Mumbai-based nongovernmental organization Islamic Defence Cyber Cell.

Although MML, if elected, would aim to make Pakistan an Islamic welfare state, it is likely to follow JuD which is a front for the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

Saeed has long claimed JuD is a humanitarian group engaged in charity work and not a terror organization. His new party is already seen by critics as a shield to protect JuD and LeT from international criticism for its widely reported terrorist activities.

Ex-Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif‘s sudden exit after the Supreme Court disqualified him over a corruption scandal has left a political vacuum in Pakistan. MML is eyeing the 2018 general elections to contest the newly opened political space. Reports indicate it is willing to align with like-minded parties.

India is concerned Saeed may be poised to assume a new prominent political role. In Pakistan’s unsettled politics anything seems possible and his Indian critics worry it will be dangerous if one day he comes to power with access to the country’s nuclear weapons.

Saeed’s political foray is baffling, they say, since he views democracy and elections as un-Islamic.

Despite being under house arrest since January, Saeed apparently still enjoys enough freedom to organize attacks against India.  That may be because he is said to be close to Pakistan army and intelligence officials. No wonder, then, MML wants him to be released immediately to lead the party and its electoral campaign.

This is not the first time that Muslim clerics in India have protested against Pakistani terrorism and the men allegedly behind it. In late 2015, about 1.5 million Muslims visiting a Sufi shrine in Ajmer during the Urs festival signed a petition against terror attacks. About 70,000 clerics who were present there passed a ‘fatwa’ against Islamic State.

Holding a Koran in one hand and the tri-color Indian flag in the other, Sufi clerics from Delhi and Mumbai staged Aman Yatra in strife-torn Kashmir Valley late last year. Unlike self-professed secularists, they refused to meet Hurriyet separatist leaders who are known to receive support from Pakistan and do not uphold the Indian Constitution.

Both Islamabad and professed secularists in India have so far been silent on the latest call by Muslim clerics for the UN to ban Pakistan-based terror groups, including Saeed’s JuD. That may change quickly if the UN agrees to take up and act on the clerics and imams’ call for accountability.

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