Pakistan has been placed under the “Watch-list” by the Paris based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) over its inaction in taking concrete action on terror funding.
The US administration has been leveraging with other countries to put Islamabad on FATF’s ‘grey list’ for declaring Pakistan as a country that promotes terrorism and does not take action against organisations that help in terror financing. Some countries that had rallied behind Pakistan withdrew their objections to the US move. Other countries went along with Washington to put Pakistan on the ‘grey list’.
About FATF –
- The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 on the initiative of the G7 to develop policies to combat money laundering.
- The objectives of the FATF are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.
- China has recently got the vice-chair of the FATF. India is also a member. Pakistan is not a member.
- Islamabad has come under intense pressure to rein in terror groups after US President Donald Trump accused the country of harbouring terrorists and suspended nearly $2 billion in security assistance to it.
- The JuD is the front organisation for the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) which is responsible for carrying out the Mumbai attack that killed 166 people. It has been declared as a foreign terrorist organisation by the US in June 2014. Its leader Hafiz Saeed is proscribed as a ‘global terrorist’ by Washington.
- Fearing a November 2017 like crisis, Pakistan had lifted up proceedings against Hafiz Saeed. In November, a sit-in by supporters of radical organisation Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah led by Khadim Hussain Rizvi had paralysed the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi.
Response from Pakistan –
- The Pakistan Prime Minister’s Adviser Miftah Ismail and Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua had apprised him of the possible repercussions of the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) meeting that could decide placing Pakistan on the watch list of countries that financially aid terrorism.
- After their inputs, Mr. Abbasi had constituted a three-member committee, comprising Iqbal, Ismail and Attorney General Ishtar Ausaf, to finalise the decision of taking a strict action against the JuD and FIF, Pakistani analysts say.
- The committee decided to resolve the issue through a ‘Presidential Ordinance’ bringing an amendment to the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997 enabling the law to freeze all the assets of the organisations banned by the United Nations Security Council.
- General Ausaf has said that, a notification by the Interior Ministry was required to formally ban both Following the Presidential Ordinance, the federal government formally ordered the freezing of all the assets of JUD and FIF across the country without placing them in Schedule 1 of Anti-Terrorism law.
Areas of concern –
- Although, the federal government has decided to freeze the assets of JUD and FIF, it has not empowered the provincial police to register cases against their activists, so the assets have only been taken over but cases have not been registered against their activists, senior police officials of Pakistan’s Punjab province have said.
- A formal notification to place JuD and FIF in Schedule 1 was still awaited. Without the notification, both the organisations will not be formally admitted as a defunct organisation at the federal and provincial levels.
- The National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) of Pakistan has also not been involved in the matter, which actually comes under its purview. In fact, the NACTA maintains a list of banned organisations of Pakistan on its website. Interestingly, the names of JuD, LeT and FIF do not figure in that list.
Meanwhile, muddying the domestic political waters, the Pakistan Supreme Court has ruled that former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is ineligible to be the Head of his own party, Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N). In an election year, this could provide a new twist to Pakistan’s politics. Pakistan is poised to suffer from economic and political troubles in the foreseeable future.