For those wondering, the decisions made at the FATF meeting in Paris last month, where it was confirmed that Pakistan would be put on the grey-list by June, can in a nutshell be explained in terms of Hafiz Saeed’s bank account(s) – or to expand the shell a bit, those that are owned by groups affiliated with him in the country.
What the grey-listing would mean is that since Pakistan has not done enough to close down Hafiz Saeed’s bank account in the country, in turn facilitating the funding of militant groups that as per Anti-Terrorism Ordinance 2018 are now declared terrorists in Pakistan as well, your bank account could be in jeopardy instead.
How? Because there are no proper checks in place for the local banks to monitory dubious transactions and swiftly trace their origins so that terror-funding can be curtailed, now any banking transaction can be scrutinised.
So that money your brother sends from Abu Dhabi, or the investment share your business partner sends in from London, or the donation that your friend has been trying to send in from Chicago, anything can be investigated – resulting not only in those delays that you absolutely don’t want, but also cancellations.
The latter are often there because your bank doesn’t do the documentation work it’s supposed to. And when that happens, and there’s no proven record of where the money is coming from, or where it’s going, the transaction is dropped – to be on the safe side.
Now forget the money that you’re supposed to receive, for it mightn’t compare with the transactions that major businesses would need to engage in, with significantly higher volume and frequency. Imagine a multinational company that just can’t seem to develop a trustworthy enough cash flow for its franchise in Pakistan, because the transactions keep getting declined.
There goes the ‘improved investment climate’ that the government has been touting and selling wherever it can be sold.
This would especially take a hit when international banks don’t consider it worth the hassle to put any significant amount of business in Pakistan, resulting in further economic disconnect.
Not to mention the off chance that even stricter action might be taken against Pakistan, resulting in a blacklisting wherein there would be complete banking isolation for the country.
This is especially true if banks start taking hits for the lack of transparency depicted in their transactions to or from Pakistan.
Of course last year, a prominent Pakistani bank was fined $225 million and was asked to shut down operations in the US, owing to system flaws that were interpreted as making it opening “the door to the financing of terror.”
Not surprisingly, that particular door opened to a Saudi bank that has for long been believed to be affiliated with al-Qaeda.
Now whatever your thoughts on Hafiz Saeed and his Lashkar-e-Taiba or Jamaat-ud-Dawa or Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation – even though these have been declared terror groups at all levels by the Pakistani state as well – the international banking system won’t care much for any ideological affiliations or sympathies.
Hafiz Saeed is a globally sanctioned terrorist, and hence the fact that his groups limit their militant activities to outside of Pakistan – although that’s not entirely true considering that these groups have overlapped with as diverse an array of jihadist outfits that range from IMU to ISIS – doesn’t factor at all in the economics of investment and business feasibility.
Therefore, until the Pakistani state manages to take care of Hafiz Saeed’s account(s) and ensure that he is not getting any funding from domestic or international banks, your account and your economic potential would remain in jeopardy.
What you also need to know is that it mightn’t be enough for Pakistan to completely filter out the LeT, the JuD and the FIF, if the Milli Muslim League – backed by you know who – contests election with Hafiz Saeed as the poster boy, literally.
But while the MML’s case is still pending at the Election Commission of Pakistan, for this very reason, there is a certain Tehrik-e-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah that is a legally registered political party in the country, which openly uses the face of Mumtaz Qadri on its posters during by-election campaigns.
Mumtaz Qadri, of course, was not only declared a terrorist by the state, and the Supreme Court, he was executed for being one as well.
But thankfully, it’s not Mumtaz Qadri’s bank account versus yours.
The writer is a Lahore-based journalist.