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High time Pakistan is blacklisted by FATF

High time Pakistan is blacklisted by FATF

Concrete evidence in the form of video clips, WhatsApp chats, photos and a money trail, presented by India’s national investigative agency in a Jammu court on Tuesday clearly brings out Pakistan’s hand in the terror strike at Pulwama in Kashmir last year in which 40 CRPF soldiers were killed.

The fact that America’s FBI has also provided concrete information on the Pakistan-backed terrorist strike to bolster the case strengthens India’s stand and exposes Islamabad’s duplicity.

The damning evidence in the case against Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammad chief Maulana Massod Azhar and his brother along with 17 other accused comes at a time Pakistan is desperately trying to avoid being blacklisted by the global Financial Action Task Force (FATF) at a meeting scheduled for October.

Pakistan continues to play its old game of running with the hare and hunting with the hound. While there has been no change in its strategy to host and finance Islamic terrorist groups, the Imran Khan government also wants to keep intact its funds lifeline from international multilateral institutions like the IMF and World Bank as well as individual nations such as the US. In order to achieve this, Islamabad has adopted a policy of deceit and subterfuge at international forums aided by the formidable clout wielded by big brother China.

<img class="wp-image-10921 size-large" src="https://indianarrative.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/38978c82665ad4ba734f1c22739caa1b-1024×682.jpg" alt="" width="1024" height="682" /> Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in south China's Hainan Province, last week. China was also holding the presidency of the FATF over the last two years which proved helpful for Pakistan (Xinhua/IANS)

It is crucial for Pakistan’s spluttering economy and bankrupt government to avoid being pushed from the “grey list” to the “black list” of the FATF, which is the global watchdog working to combat money laundering and terror finance. A regular pattern has emerged in the dubious manner in which Pakistan issues statements just ahead of FATF meetings, claiming the country is taking action against terrorist groups while it continues to support them on the ground. The latest statement came this week with Pakistan releasing a list of UN-designated terrorists and entities who it claimed will be subject to "assets freeze, travel ban and arms embargo" as per the United Nations Security Council resolution that Islamabad has to comply with.

However, after the statutory regulatory order issued by Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs which had also revealed the Karachi addresses, aliases and passport numbers of dreaded terrorist Dawood Ibrahim, the ministry issued a statement saying that it had merely circulated a list prepared by the UN as part of its international treaty obligations. The statement said that news reports about “Pakistan admitting to the presence of certain listed individuals on its territory, based on the information contained in the statutory regulatory order, are baseless and misleading.” This clearly exposes the double game that Pakistan is brazenly playing.

Similarly, in February this year, just ahead of the Paris-based FATF meeting to decide Pakistan’s fate on blacklisting, a Lahore anti-terrorism court convicted Mumbai’s 26/11 terror attack mastermind and Laskhar-e-Taiba and Jamat-ud-Dawa founder Hafiz Saeed in two terror-financing cases. Pakistan had been dragging its feet on the issue and the conviction came a good 10 years after the deadly strike. In fact, Saeed had been set free in November 2018, to appease Jihadi groups, from a 300-day-long house arrest during which he was also seen moving around freely. It was due to the pressure from these militant groups that the Pakistan government had not put Saeed in jail but instead accommodated him under a lenient “house arrest” arrangement. He had been declared a global terrorist by the US and UN for his role in the deadly Mumbai terrorist attack which claimed the lives of 166 innocent people.

Islamabad has been able to get away lightly at the FATF meetings as it requires a mere three votes in its favour to avoid the watchdog’s black list. Islamist Pakistan has been able to secure this support from communist China which is always willing to bail out its friend to serve its geopolitical thrust against India. Turkey and Malaysia pitch in to make up the remaining votes as part of this alliance.

Even though Pakistan has missed multiple deadlines to fulfil its commitments on terrorist financing under the FATF’s charter it still has not been moved to the black list and is in fact trying to wriggle out of the grey list which has put it under increased watch.

China was also holding the presidency of the FATF over the last two years which proved helpful for Pakistan in covering up its deceit. However, with Germany having taken over the presidency in July this year, the discussions are expected to be held in a more balanced and objective manner this time around instead of China’s geopolitical considerations making things easier for Pakistan.

In the FATF meeting in February, Pakistan had gained an extra four months to comply with international anti-terrorism financing norms but was warned that if it failed to fall in line it would be blacklisted.The FATF said it was concerned that Islamabad had again failed to complete an internationally agreed action plan.

“The FATF strongly urges Pakistan to swiftly complete its full action plan by June 2020. Otherwise, should significant and sustainable progress especially in prosecuting and penalizing terrorism financing not be made by the next Plenary, the FATF will take action,” the global watchdog had said in a statement issued after the meeting in Paris.

It had said such action could include calling on its member states to order their financial institutions to give particularly rigorous attention to business relations and transactions with Pakistan.

Inclusion on the FATF blacklist would put Pakistan in the same category as Iran and North Korea and mean it would be not be able to get any loans from international financial institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank. It would also face problems in financial dealings with other countries..