Pakistani authorities need to walk the talk on terror funding
Affected Countries: pakistan;
On November 1 2019, the US State Department released a report on terrorism. The Congress-mandated report was the official US assessment on the state of global terrorism during the year 2018. It included country reviews on implementation of anti-terror-funding network.
The report noted that although Pakistan is a member of the Asia/Pacific Group (APG) on Money Laundering – a regional body affiliated with the international watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Pakistan’s laws technically comply with international anti-money laundering and terrorism financing standards.
The report states that “authorities failed to uniformly implement the UN sanctions related to designated entities and individuals such as LeT and its affiliates, which continued to make use of economic resources and raise funds” Pakistan claims that it is implementing international standards to combat money laundering and terror financing, and has also criminalised such acts, “but implementation remains uneven”.
The report stated clearly that the government failed to significantly limit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) from “raising money, recruiting, and training in Pakistan – and allowed candidates overtly affiliated with LeT front organisations to contest the July general elections”.
The report also complained that the Pakistani government “did not restrict the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network (HQN) from operating in Pakistan-based safe havens and threatening the US and Afghan forces in Afghanistan”. It is an open secret for the world community that Pakistan voiced support for political reconciliation between the Afghan government and the Afghan Taliban.
Islamabad explains that it has taken many measures to check terror financing during last one year. As the report is based on the activities that took place in 2018, when current measures were still in the wombs of time, it has not taken into account the measures the country adopted during that year.
Just a couple of months ago, back in June, the FATF placed Pakistan in its “grey list” for deficiencies across its anti-money laundering and terror financing regimes. The anti-terror funding regime expressed concern over Pakistan’s failure to fully implement the UN Security Council ISIL (Da’esh) and Al Qaeda sanctions regime.
The world community was aghast that the UN-listed entities, including LeT and its affiliates, were not effectively prohibited from raising funds in Pakistan, or being denied financial services, as claimed by the FATF.
The US report, however, acknowledges that Pakistan’s 2015 National Action Plan to combat terrorism includes efforts to prevent and counter-terrorism financing, by enhancing interagency coordination. The law proscribes the use of unlicensed “hundi” and “hawala” systems as terrorism. The banks are required to report suspicious transactions to Pakistan’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and the State Bank’s Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU). However, the US report found that “these unlicensed money transfer systems persisted throughout the country and were open to abuse by terrorism financiers operating in the cross-border area”.
The State Department points out that Pakistan experienced numerous terrorist attacks in 2018. Militant and terrorist groups targeted civilians, journalists, community leaders, security forces, law enforcement personnel and schools, killing and injuring hundreds.
The report also noted Pakistan’s efforts to implement laws which allow enhanced law enforcement and prosecutorial powers for terrorism cases, also for preventive detention, permit the death penalty for terrorism offences, and create special Anti-Terrorism Courts. In 2018, the “military, paramilitary, and civilian security forces conducted counter-terrorism operations throughout Pakistan. The Intelligence Bureau has nationwide jurisdiction and is empowered to coordinate with provincial counter-terrorism departments,” the report adds.
The US is a key member of the FATF and plays an important role in determining which country fulfils its obligations to combat terror financing and how to persuade violators to comply.
Source: New Delhi Times