Ter­ror Fi­nance Watch­dog Puts Pak on No­tice

FATF asks coun­try to show that it has blocked fi­nanc­ing routes of JuD, JeM

The Economic Times - - Front Page - Pran­abDhal.Sa­manta @times­group.com

New Delhi: In­ter­na­tional ter­ror fi­nance watch­dog, the Fi­nan­cial Ac­tion Task Force (FATF), has vir­tu­ally put Pak­istan on a three­month no­tice to demon­strate that it has blocked fi­nan­cial routes of Ja­maat-ud-Dawa, Jaish-e-Mohammed and their af­fil­i­ates.

The fall­out of non-com­pli­ance will be se­ri­ous for Pak­istan, which runs the risk of be­ing placed in the cat­e­gory of ju­ris­dic­tions with se­ri­ous de­fi­cien­cies in ad­her­ing to global stan­dards on com­bat­ing ter­ror fi­nance and check money-laun­der­ing.

The FATF, which held its ple­nary in Paris last week, has a process of is­su­ing pub­lic state­ments on coun­tries with de­fi­cien­cies, mak­ing them ‘un­trust­wor­thy’, al­most a vir­tual ‘no go’ in the in­ter­na­tional fi­nan­cial sys­tem.

Pak­istan has had to rally hard to even get th­ese 90 days of breath­ing space at the just-con­cluded FATF meet in Paris. The ac­tions against JuD, JeM and its front Falah-i-In­saaniyat, in Jan­uary last week were a start to a se­ries of ef­forts to con­vince the FATF that it was se­ri­ous in its ac­tions. This cul­mi­nated in putting JuD founder Hafiz Mohammed Saeed on a travel ban list and in house ar­rest by Jan­uary 31.

ET has gath­ered that tak­ing note of th­ese ac­tions, the FATF has given Pak­istan time un­til June to show per­ma­nent cred­i­ble ac­tion on queries raised against it.

The heat in­creased on Pak­istan in the FATF’s Oc­to­ber meet­ing, where it re­jected Pak­istan’s claims on ac­tion against fi­nances of th­ese ter­ror groups and di­rected its Asia-Pa­cific Group (APG) to pre­pare a spe­cific eval­u­a­tion re­port on JuD, JeM and Falah-iIn­saaniyat.

An up­set Pak­istan made of­fi­cial diplo­matic protests on the mar­gins of the FATF meet, but failed to make much head­way with many Euro­pean coun­tries shar­ing ev­i­dence that th­ese groups were ac­tively try­ing to raise funds in their coun­tries.

Re­li­able of­fi­cials told ET that the APG re­port, which was ready by Jan­uary, was quite scathing and con­tra­dicted Pak­istan’s claims. There were spe­cific ques­tions against Pak­istan, which needed both an­swer­ing and ac­tion.

Though Pak­istan tried to raise diplo­matic pres­sure, but the new Don­ald Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion was clear that Is­lam­abad would have to sat­isfy FATF queries.

The set of ac­tions it took through Jan­uary re­sulted in the ple­nary de­cid­ing to de­fer the Pak­istan case by an­other three months, giv­ing Is­lam­abad a chance to make good on what it claims to have started.

Pak­istan’s de­fence min­is­ter Khawaja Muhammad Asif, at­tend­ing the Mu­nich Se­cu­rity Con­fer­ence, best ex­em­pli­fied Pak­istan’s changed line under pres­sure. When asked about Saeed’s house ar­rest, he said: “In the last four or five moths, we have put a lot of peo­ple, who could be po­ten­tial fa­cil­i­ta­tors of ter­ror­ism, under sched­ule 4 which is a sec­tion in our le­gal sys­tem that re­stricts the move­ments of the in­di­vid­u­als, they are mon­i­tored and can­not move out of a cer­tain area.”

Re­fer­ring specif­i­cally to JuD, he claimed: “Let me as­sure that such peo­ple who in the past had some li­cence to move around.. con­tinue their work, which is not re­ally ter­ror­ism re­lated but they could be dan­ger­ous to our own so­ci­ety, we have taken stern ac­tion... we in­tend to put them to test.”

ANIR­BAN

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