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Hafiz Saeed declared a terrorist: China's failure behind Pakistan move?

BS Web Team | Agencies/New Delhi 13 Feb 18 | 01:35 PM

Has Pakistan turned over a new leaf when it comes to aiding, harbouring and turning a blind eye to terrorist organisations operating from its soil? Has it finally heeded India's warnings or US President Donald Trump's threats? One might be inclined to believe so, to some extent, given that the ordinance promulgated by Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain last week will reportedly lead to the proscription of Hafiz Saeed-linked Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF). The truth could be that Islamabad is facing a tough situation that its friend Beijing has been unable to bail it out of.

However, even as the ordinance was promulgated and signed, Pakistan-backed terrorist organisations attacked military installations in India -- an Indian Army camp in Jammu and a CRPF camp in Srinagar. So, what made Islamabad take a decision that, as Pakistani newspaper Dawn describes, "would end a long-standing ambiguity over the status of Hafiz Saeed-linked JuD and FIF by firmly placing them on the list of proscribed groups"? It could be that a global financial watchdog might have finally compelled the powers that be in that country to take some action.  

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According to the Pakistani daily, analysts fear that the aforementioned international body could take punitive action against Pakistan if the country is found to be complicit in terror financing. According to the report, such an action could jack up the cost of doing international and domestic business.

Upcoming global financial watchdog meeting hounding Pakistan

According to Dawn, the new ordinance was brought in with just over a week left before the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) meeting, scheduled to be held from February 18 to 23, in Paris. According to the report, Islamabad is facing a Washington- and New Delhi-led attempt to get Pakistan included in FATF's international money-laundering and terror-financing 'grey list'. In this backdrop, Pakistan's National Security Committee had directed the concerned ministries to "complete the few outstanding actions at the earliest" for complying with the FATF's requirements, the report added.   

So, did the upcoming FATF meet really spook Pakistani authorities? As reported earlier, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a Paris-based organisation which sets standards for banks globally, has been scrutinising Pakistan's record on terror financing.  

As reported, President Hussain on Monday signed the ordinance aimed at cracking down on terrorist organisations and individuals, which have been banned by United Nations Security Council (UNSC). The ordinance amends a section of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), enabling the authorities to take action against UNSC-proscribed individuals and terrorist outfits such as sealing their offices and freezing their bank accounts, the Express Tribune reported. 

ALSO READ: I get hurt when I am called a terrorist by Pakistani media: Hafiz Saeed

The UNSC sanctions' list includes dreaded terrorist organisations such as al-Qaeda, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) to name a few. 

In June last year, FATF had slammed Pakistan for continued complicity in financing terrorist entities, stating that certain United Nations-designated terrorist groups in the country were receiving money due to lack of control by authorities. 

ALSO READ: Will seize Hafiz Saeed-run charities: Pakistan PM Abbasi to US

Continuing with its scrutiny, at its plenary in Buenos Aires in November 2017, the watchdog had asked Islamabad to submit a compliance report on actions taken by it against LeT and JuD at the Paris meeting. The upcoming plenary meeting in France will take up the aforementioned report to be submitted by Pakistan on what it has done to squeeze the funding of Saeed and outfits connected to him. 

China of no help in the matter

Crucially, during the November FATF plenary, Pakistan found that its ally, China, was unable to shield it. According to an Economic Times report from November last year, despite China's opposition, FATF asked Pakistan to submit a compliance report on actions taken against terrorist groups by February 2018.    

At the Buenos Aires plenary, New Delhi had raised the issue of Islamabad's support for terrorist organisations at the International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG) meet, the financial daily had reported citing officials present in the Argentine capital.  

ALSO READ: Fearing arrest, Hafiz Saeed seeks Pak protection ahead of UN team's arrival

China, according to the financial daily, found itself isolated at the November FATF meet when all the other 36 member nations, including the US, Russia, France, and the UK, supported India. 

In its June 2017 meeting in Spain's Valencia, the FATF closely scrutinised Pakistan's record on terror financing. A report on Pakistan's complicity in terror financing was discussed at the FATF Plenary that took place from June 18-23. As per the report, certain entities designated under UN Security Council Resolution 1267 continued to receive and disperse funds without controls being applied by the competent authorities in Pakistan. 

As a consequence, FATF's ICRG requested its regional arm Asia Pacific Group (APG) to provide the revised follow-up report on Pakistan. The ICRG asked APG to provide the report following the discussion over it at the APG annual meeting in July 2017.  

ALSO READ: Pakistan won't allow UNSC team any direct access to Hafiz Saeed: Report

The FATF was established in 1989 to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and combat other related threats to the international financial system.

It has developed a series of recommendations that are recognised as the international standard for combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism.  


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