Islamabad: International terror finance watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), has virtually put Pakistan on a three month 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-i-Insaaniyat.
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.”