ISLAMABAD - The Election Commission of Pakistan directed Monday to the leadership of Milli Muslim League, the alleged political front of Jamaatud Dawa of Hafiz Saeed, to submit a clearance certificate from the Interior Ministry for its enlistment as a political party.

The directive was issued to the MML by a three-member bench of the commission headed by Justice (Retd) Abdul Ghaffar Soomro during the hearing of the MML’s appeal for its registration as a political party.

During the hearing, the ECP panel asked the MML’s legal counsel Raja Rizwan Abbasi whether he could bring a clearance certificate signed and issued by the interior ministry.

Abbasi argued that there was no requirement for the party to request clearance from the ministry under the Elections Act, 2017 and added that none of the MML members had an association with any terror outfit. However, the commission directed the counsel to submit a clearance certificate issued by the ministry or an affidavit addressing the allegations against the MML.

The ECP panel asked Raja Abbasi whether the MML had submitted details of 2,000 of its members and Rs200,000 registration fee, which is a requirement to be met to enlist a political party under the Elections Act 2017.

The MML’s lawyer responded that they had applied for registration in August 2017 when the said law had not been passed. He pleaded to the ECP panel to allow registration of the MML and all the legal requirements would be fulfilled. Any citizen can get their party registered with the ECP, Abbasi contended.

However, the ECP asked the MML lawyer to submit a written reply before the next hearing to be held on May 2 and submit the clearance from the ministry. The commission also asked the MML to prepare the list of 2,000 members along with thumbprints.

The ECP had refused to register the MML on the interior ministry’s advice as the entity’s patrons, including Hafiz Saeed, had been put on the UN watch list, while his group Jamaatud Dawa and charity wing Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation had also been proscribed through a presidential ordinance.

A The Islamabad High Court (IHC) had last month set aside the ECP decision to reject MML’s application for registration without providing an opportunity of hearing to it. This was after the interior ministry objected to its alleged ties to banned militant outfits.

The IHC had remanded the case back to the ECP asking it to proceed further on the application by giving the party an opportunity of hearing.