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Washington blasts Pakistan political party linked to alleged Mumbai attacks

April 04, 2018 00:00:00

ISLAMABAD, Apr 03 (Agencies): A Pakistan political party linked to the alleged mastermind of the Mumbai attacks blasted Washington on Tuesday for violating the country's "sovereignty and constitution", hours after the United States (US) blacklisted the group.

The move by the US comes as the White House continues to ratchet up pressure on Islamabad to crack down on extremist groups operating in the country after suspending military aid to Pakistan in January for inaction.

The Milli Muslim League (MML) was launched last August by Hafiz Saeed's Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) -- the charity wing of militant group Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT).

LeT is accused of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks that left nearly 166 people dead and brought nuclear-armed India and Pakistan to the brink of war.

Since launching, the MML has struggled to officially register with Pakistan's Election Commission over its links to JuD.

The task is likely to be harder after the US State Department amended its designation of LeT Monday to include the political party.

Saeed, who operates freely in Pakistan despite a $10 million US bounty on his head, has denied involvement in terrorism and the Mumbai attacks.

Six Americans were among those killed during the three-day rampage in Mumbai, when gunmen who arrived by sea sparked battles with Indian commandos.

Saeed, was listed by the UN in December 2008 for being associated with LeT, as well as having links to the Al-Qaeda terror network and Taliban militants.

The US has placed a Pakistani political group called the Milli Muslim League (MML) on its list of foreign terrorist organisations, saying it was merely an alias for a militant group blamed for a bloody 2008 attack in India.

The Milli Muslim League is controlled by Islamist leader Hafiz Saeed, who has a $10 million US bounty on his head. The group shot to prominence after fielding a candidate in a September 2017 by-election to fill a seat vacated by deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

Saeed is the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), or Army of the Pure, which is also on the US terrorist list and blamed by the United States and India for a four-day militant attack on the Indian city of Mumbai in 2008 in which 166 people were killed.

Saeed has repeatedly denied involvement in the attack.

The US State Department said the Milli Muslim League alias had been added to the LeT's designations as a terrorist group.

"These designations seek to deny LeT the resources it needs to plan and carry out further terrorist attacks," the State Department said in a statement.

"Make no mistake: whatever LeT chooses to call itself, it remains a violent terrorist group. The United States supports all efforts to ensure that LeT does not have a political voice until it gives up violence as a tool of influence," it added.

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