Pakistan terror funding under scanner again

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File Photo: Hafiz Saeed

Asia-Pacific group to review FATF listing.

Pakistan’s recent actions on terror financing will be under the scanner once again at the Asia-Pacific Joint working group (APJG) meeting in Bangkok next week where the proposal for its grey-listing by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is to be taken up.

The proposal, first moved by the United States at the FATF Plenary in February this year, was backed by the United Kingdom, France and Germany. The FATF will review Pakistan’s record at the next Plenary scheduled for the third week of June in Paris.

NIA scrutiny

Indian agencies have kept a close watch on terror outfits operating out of Pakistan. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has registered a case and recently filed a charge sheet, accusing Pakistan High Commission officials of funding terror activities in Jammu and Kashmir.

The NIA has named Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief Hafiz Saeed and Hizbul Mujahideen’s Syed Salahuddin, besides others, in the charge sheet.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is also pursuing terror funding cases, including one against J&K-based businessman Zahoor Ahmed Shah Watali, who was arrested by the NIA in August 2017 for allegedly receiving funds from the Pakistani establishment and terror outfits.

According to an official, at the Bangkok meet, Pakistan will accept an action plan prepared by the FATF on laws that need to be passed, as well as the action and implementation of UN Security Council resolutions against designated organisations and terrorists including the Taliban and Haqqani Network, Hafiz Saeed, Masood Azhar, LeT and Jaish-e-Mohammad.

The APJG recommendations will then be taken up at the next FATF Plenary and if accepted, will ensure that all Pakistan actions on terror financing and money laundering fronts are monitored closely for at least the next year.

Meanwhile, the U.S has made it clear that it will raise the non-action against 26/11 accused Hafiz Saeed, who was only last week given heightened security by the Pakistan government.

“We’ve addressed this on numerous occasions…our concerns about the mastermind behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks….that person out in the open is a tremendous concern to the United States,” said State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert on Thursday.

In the run-up to the meeting, Pakistan says it has taken a number of actions aimed at convincing the international body on terror financing of its intention to curb terror groups.

On Friday, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs held a meeting to discuss the proposed action plan on financial, regulatory and legal requirements for the FATF, agencies reported.

In the past few months since the last FATF session, Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain has issued several ordinances under the National Accountability Ordinance, Federal Investigation Agency Act, Election Commission of Pakistan Act, Anti-Money Laundering Act, Anti-Terrorism Act and Anti-Smuggling Act to fall in line with the FATF requirements.

However, Pakistan’s Parliament is yet to clear an amendment that recognizes all the UNSC declarations in Pakistan’s Anti-Terrorism Act, which was promulgated as an Ordinance in February 2018 and laid in the Senate in April.

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