ISLAMABAD - As Pakistan is struggling to get around a US-sponsored move to get its name placed on the FATF’s global terror financing watch-list, the country has taken a number of initiatives to take strict action against organizations facing sanctions under the United Nations Security Council.

On February 9, the federal government promulgated an ordinance amending the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 in a bid to proscribe those individuals and organizations listed by the UNSC.

The move came days ahead of member states of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) — an international watchdog on money laundering and terror financing — met in Paris to consider a US-sponsored motion to place Pakistan on a list of global terror financing watch-list.

After the promulgation of the ordinance, the Ministry of Interior moved to take over assets and human resources of Hafiz Saeed-linked Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) and the Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation (FIF). The ministry through a notification, issued on February 10, directed all provinces that “requisite actions with regard to freezing and taking over of assets [moveable, immoveable and human resources] associated with [the] JuD and [the] FIF shall be taken in pursuance of Ordinance No II of 2018”.

On January 13, the federal cabinet approved new rules in the light of a newly promulgated law to go tough on banned outfits in the country and block their financial assistance. The cabinet accorded approval to Anti-Terrorism (Freezing and Seizure) Rules, 2018, allowing seizure and freezing of assets and blocking of bank accounts of terrorist individuals and organizations.

Earlier on January 23, the Ministry of Interior moved a summary to the cabinet for banning the JuD and the FIF. The summary features the reasons for banning the two organizations but it is still pending with the cabinet.

Provinces’ crackdown: Soon after the measures of the federal government, the provincial authorities had begun seizing control of offices, education facilities and other assets of the JuD and health facilities of the FIF. Through a countrywide crackdown, the authorities started taking over all assets of the JuD and the FIF. The Punjab government replaced all the JuD staff with its own staff at its headquarters in Muridke. The provincial government has also suspended the FIF’s operations throughout Punjab. The action was taken against schools, dispensaries and seminaries belonging to the JuD and the FIF.

Pakistan on international lobbying: Pakistan also went on international lobbying contacting different countries to resist/withdraw the US-sponsored move to place Pakistan in the FATF’s grey list. Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal embarked on visits of the US and the UK to convince their governments to withdraw the motion. The adviser to the prime minister on finance went on a tour of European countries in this connection. The foreign secretary separately visited Italy and other senior government functionaries visited other countries to pursue their case.

Presidential ordinance: The presidential ordinance amended sections 11-B and 11-EE of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 saying, “organizations would be proscribed who are listed under the UNSC”. Similarly, the ordinance asked for placing those persons under the Fourth Schedule (list of suspected terrorists) who are facing sanctions of the Security Council. Section 11-B provides parameters for proscribing organizations, whereas Section 11-EE describes the grounds for listing individuals on the terrorists' list.