U.S. wants to put Is­lam­abad back on ter­ror fi­nance list

Pakistan ac­cused of not do­ing enough to cut off mil­i­tants.

Dayton Daily News - - MORE OF TODAY’S TOP NEWS - Maria Abi Habib

The United States has in­di­cated that it will seek to place Pakistan on a watch list of coun­tries that are not do­ing enough to counter ter­ror­ism fi­nanc­ing, threat­en­ing Is­lam­abad with global iso­la­tion, ac­cord­ing to a se­nior Pak­istani of­fi­cial.

The United States is likely to in­tro­duce the mo­tion next week in Paris, where the Fi­nan­cial Ac­tion Task Force, a global body cre­ated to fight ter­ror­ism fi­nanc­ing and money laun­der­ing, will vote on the mat­ter, the of­fi­cial, Mif­tah Is­mail, a fi­nan­cial ad­viser to Pakistan’s prime min­is­ter, said.

Pakistan was on the list from 2012 to 2015, and of­fi­cials worry that be­ing added again could hin­der the coun­try’s ac­cess to in­ter­na­tional mar­kets as it pre­pares to re­pay roughly $3 bil­lion in debt this sum­mer.

In an ef­fort to stave off re­turn­ing to the list, Pakistan has qui­etly adopted sanc­tions against two groups that the United States ac­cuses of be­ing fronts for the mil­i­tant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, mov­ing to seize their schools, am­bu­lances and other as­sets this week. The United States has been try­ing for years to get Is­lam­abad to move against Lashkar-e-Taiba, which In­dia ac­cuses of be­ing be­hind the 2008 ter­ror­ist at­tacks in Mumbai that shut down the city for sev­eral days and killed more than 160 peo­ple.

“We’re talk­ing to the U.S. and try­ing to get them not to take any ac­tion against Pakistan,” Is­mail said by tele­phone. “I think they’re lis­ten­ing to us and I’m more than hope­ful we won’t be gray-listed.”

But his op­ti­mistic tone faded as he re­called a meet­ing with U.S. Trea­sury of­fi­cials this month. The Pak­istani del­e­ga­tion walked away with the im­pres­sion that “they are still go­ing to put us on the gray list,” he said, call­ing the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s for­eign pol­icy in­con­sis­tent.

That would un­der­mine mod­er­ates in the coun­try, he said.

“We’ll have egg on our faces,” Is­mail added. “We pushed for these re­forms, although many thought we wouldn’t be suc­cess­ful chang­ing Washington’s be­hav­ior.”

A State Depart­ment spokesman said that the United States wel­comed Pakistan’s ef­forts against the groups tied to Lashkare-Taiba, but that it sought ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion on what “con­crete steps” were be­ing taken to de­prive them of fi­nanc­ing. The spokesman said the Paris meet­ing would de­ter­mine the next steps on Pakistan.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s in­creas­ingly hawk­ish stance on Pakistan has left of­fi­cials in the South Asian coun­try wor­ried that it could be­come po­lit­i­cally iso­lated. Pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tions have tried to force Is­lam­abad to cut off sup­port for ex­trem­ist or­ga­ni­za­tions that op­er­ate in Pakistan and cross the border into Afghanistan, where they at­tack U.S.-led forces.

Civil­ian of­fi­cials in Pakistan’s govern­ment say pri­vately that they are ea­ger to clamp down on in­sur­gent groups, but that the mil­i­tary and its pow­er­ful in­tel­li­gence wing may not com­ply.

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