On Monday, Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD), on the UN list of banned organisations, announced it would enter mainstream politics, and has launched a new political party, the Milli Muslim League (MML). Saifullah Khalid, president of the newly launched party briefed the reporters that his party would struggle to make Pakistan a real Islamic and welfare state.

We have seen this before, proscribed or controversial groups forming new wings to improve their image. The JuD is the reformed charity wing of the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba that was banned in Pakistan. Usually they reform into welfare organisations, but here we have a clear political reincarnation. This may be an attempt to provide a cover to the organisation amid pressure from the international community on Pakistan to crack down on JuD for its alleged involvement in terrorist activities in India and its links to Al Qaeda.

While the JuD Chief is under extended house arrest, it would be naïve to underestimate the support the group has in Pakistan. The newly launched political party will follow the ideology of JuD as revealed at the press conference. However, according to the spokesperson of the party, Hafiz Saeed participating in the political process is unlikely. The question that begs one's attention is whether the emergence of this new right wing political party will polarise an already fragmented society?

Mainstream political parties have proved a constant failure on meeting the demands of the masses. JuD’s welfare wing, Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation is many times the first responder in times of crisis and runs a free ambulance service in Karachi. Worth recalling here are the words of General Musharraf, the former dictator, who saw JuD as an NGO that is providing relief to the affected ones in disaster hit areas. If a former ruler, a secular one in his outlook, is sympathetic without any consideration to the Salafi and Wahabi roots of the organisation, then expecting a layman to give it a thought will be a miscalculation. The masses will easily internalise the extremist political ideology of the party, under the cover of the relief services of the organisation.