FATF dissatisfied with Pak action plan, ask for more concrete measures against LeT, JuD and FiF already proscribed by UNSC. “We have to submit new strategy between 8 and 11 June”; says Miftah Ismail
Nation special report
ISLAMABAD: The sword of sanctions and declaration as a ‘terror’ country, are hanging over Pakistan as the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global terror-financing watchdog, has given Islamabad 8th June the deadline to meet the necessary requirement.
The organisation has alerted Pakistan to take concrete steps against groups allegedly linked to Hafiz Saeed to avert possible tough sanctions in June this year.
Pakistan submitted its action plan with the FATF’s Asia Pacific group in a meeting held in Bangkok late last month but global body expressed its dissatisfaction, raising objections to take concrete steps against LET, JuD and FIF proscribed by the UN Security Council, revealed one of senior officials who attended this important meeting.
The Bangkok meet asked Pakistan to put a new comprehensive action plan within two weeks, alerting that the country might end up on the blacklist of the countries’ failing to prevent terror financing, he added.
Admitting the tough time, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail told the Dawn correspondent in Islamabad; “Yes, FATF seeks new comprehensive action plan from Pakistan,” confirmed. “This plan would be submitted with global terror financing watchdog between June 8 and 11.” They want us to go hard on the LeT, JuD and FIF and other proscribed organisations, the finance minister said that the watchdog wanted comprehensive measures to curb terror financing of such militant groups, he said.
“Pakistan’s new action plan would be discussed in Paris meet on June 23,” Finance Minister Miftah Ismail added. The government submitted its action plan on April 25 in response to FATF’s warning to put Pakistan on countries’ grey-list in February this year, informed officials said.
“If the country’s new action plan on fighting terrorism financing does not deliver in June 23 Paris meet, Pakistan may be put on FATF’s black-list which would unnerve the country’s economy,” added one of senior officials who was engaged in preparing Pakistan’s response at Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A high-powered delegation was sent to Bangkok for briefing the forum about the steps taken by Islamabad against money laundering and terror financing.
“We presented our point of view before all the stakeholders as a last-ditch effort to avoid falling into the grey list by next month — but we were asked to come up with new comprehensive plan, official revealed that “we informed stakeholders that the Finance Bill 2018 and some other piece of laws helped the country to curb money laundering under mutual assistance agreement with OECD and other bilateral countries.” In its response, Pakistani informed officials said that counterterrorism authorities have launched massive crackdown on three entities linked to Hafiz Muhammad Saeed by freezing their property worth around a million dollars and taking several other serious measures to block their funding. “[Authorities] confiscated assets (properties) worth Rs96 million of JuD and FIF.
The key leaders of the JuD and FIF were declared proscribed pursuant to section 11-EE of Anti-Terrorism Act 1997,” added the official who said authorities updated earlier response in details which was submitted before FATF Paris meet in February this year. The “JuD and FIF Markaz were taken over by the state by freezing 121 bank accounts under the UNSC Resolution-1267, having deposits of around $100 million. This includes 69 bank accounts containing Rs10.97 million of JuD, LeT and FIF of concerns (19 accounts) and associated individuals (50 accounts),” official revealed that Pakistan has ensured the implementation of UNSC’s resolutions putting LeT, JuD, FIF, ISIS, alQaeda and other groups on the terror watch-list.
The individuals linked with LeT, JuD and FIF and declared proscribed offenders under the terror laws include Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, Abdullah Ubaid, Malik Zafar Iqbal Shahbaz, Abdul Rehman Abid, and Qazi Kashif Husain, according to the documents accessed by Geo News. Pakistan also established Counter Financing of Terrorism Units (CFTUs) to focus on the financial aspect of the investigation as a core task in money laundering, terrorist financing, assets tracing and other necessary skills. Pakistan’s authorities also initiated strict action to prevent collection of hides by such entities, by registering 438 cases against individuals throughout the country in the past six months.
Among them 65 cases were registered against individuals associated with the JuD and FIF. Over 18 kiosks, camps, donation boxes and booths of FIF were dismantled and destroyed, read the documents. Pakistan also has frozen accounts of proscribed individuals listed to the 4th Schedule of the ATA, 1997 in accordance with section 11-O of this law. Under this action, 5,094 bank accounts having Rs157.235 million have been frozen, revealed the documents. The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) also developed an e-portal system to launch complaints against the misuse of internet for the purposes of terrorism and the financing of terrorism.
Initially, 41 URLs associated with LeT, JuD, FIF have been blocked inside Pakistan thus preventing the entities of concern from raising funds online, the documents revealed. The official documents further revealed that PTA blocked 14 URLs of JuD and FIF to restrict their online fund raising activities. Islamabad also requested France and USA to block these websites at source in their jurisdictions; however, action from their end is still awaited, added the documents. Some 52 secured web pages i.e. web content hosted on “https” protocols (e.g. YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter etc.) were identified by PTA which cannot be blocked at individual URL level rather the whole website has to be shut down.