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ICC Note:

A new right-wing political party in Pakistan has announced its intentions to attempt to establish Pakistan as a “real Islamic state” if they were every to take power. Christians and other religious minorities fear the rise of such groups since they often only inflame widespread religious intolerance. With more groups coming to power that are against Pakistan being a secular or even multi-faith nation, many Christians fear for their community’s future. Will Pakistan continue on its current course of ever greater religious intolerance? 

09/01/2017 Pakistan (Washington Times) – In a sign of how such groups are securing a hold in civil society, a group accused of terrorism is fielding a new mainstream party with the explicit aim to make Pakistan a “real Islamic state.”

Leaders of the Milli Muslim League aren’t even bothering to soften their platform to attract mainstream voters. As party organizers marked the country’s 70th Independence Day last month with public rallies in major cities, they essentially declared war on Pakistan’s liberals.

“We declare our [platform] to be for the change in the ideology of Pakistan,” Saifullah Khalid, Milli Muslim League president, said at a party launch event in Islamabad. “We plan to make Pakistan a real Islamic state. [Because of] a nefarious plan, the country has been put on the road to secularism and liberalism.”

The league is widely viewed as a front for the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, an aid foundation that was once affiliated with the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people. The U.S. government declared the group a terrorist organization in 2010, and American officials have offered a $10 million bounty for group founder Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, who is believed to now be living under house arrest inside Pakistan.

Mr. Khalid made it clear that Saeed’s status as an identified terrorist would be no bar to a top job in the party.

“What role he will play in the Milli Muslim League or in Pakistan’s ongoing politics will be seen after Allah ensures his release,” Mr. Khalid told reporters in Pakistan. Once he is released, “we will meet him and ask him what role he would like to play. He is the leader of Pakistan.”

The party’s public event illustrates Pakistan’s deeply ambivalent attitude about terrorism, observers said. Those suspected of terrorism or terrorist links roam freely throughout the country, address public gatherings and appear in television interviews, where they plead their innocence to the public.

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