Islamabad - Authorities have sprung into action to fend off an international move to put Pakistan on a global terror financing watch list.

Finance Minister Rana Afzal Khan told AFP that Islamabad would develop a strategy to evade Financial Action Task Force’s grey list in June. Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal reiterated Pakistan’s resolve to follow the UN resolutions and ban the Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) and Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF).

“We will start meeting on the FATF issue after March 1 to see what we can do on this and what strategy we can devise,” Rana told AFP, adding that Pakistan had not yet received the list of actions it needs to take.

In his his inaugural address to the fourth international conference on the use of space technology for water management, Ahsan Iqbal said: “Terrorism is a poison for Pakistan.”

The interior minister spoke on topics ranging from prevalence of terrorism to improving Pakistan’s water system. “Our measures are not directed to please any country. The National Action Plan is a programme of the Pakistani nation and is being implemented fully,” he said.

A diplomatic source said that members of Paris-based anti-money-laundering watchdog FATF voted last week to place Pakistan on its grey list of nations, which are not doing enough to combat terror financing, in June.

That gives Pakistan three months to make enough changes to avoid being listed, which could hamper some foreign investment and further strain relations with Washington, where officials have put increasing pressure on Pakistan over its alleged support to militant safe havens.

The move, which was not announced in FATF’s statement at the close of the six-day meeting, came after members had initially been unable to reach a consensus, with Turkey, China and Saudi Arabia holding out, the diplomatic source said.

That saw Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif confidently tweet last week that Pakistan had avoided being grey-listed. But amid a flurry of diplomatic activity a second vote was held, with the US convincing Riyadh to change its vote and Beijing staying silent, the source said.

The decision is a diplomatic blow to Islamabad’s relations with its “all-weather” friend China, which has invested billions in the country’s infrastructure, and Saudi Arabia, to which Pakistan sent some 1,000 troops earlier this month. “It shows that the people who are concerned about terror financing are pretty broad,” the diplomatic source said.

Pakistan was previously on the list from 2012 until 2015. Two diplomatic sources in Islamabad told the French news agency it was targeted again this year over its lack of action against Hafiz Saeed, the alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, and his charity JuD.

This month Pakistan began seizing JuD assets and quietly amended its anti-terror laws to bring them in line with the UN, a move observers said was in anticipation of the FATF decision.

The interior minister said on Monday that efforts to implement the ban on JuD and FIF were already underway with provinces following directives from the federal government.

On February 14, the Punjab government banned these two charities linked to Hafiz Saeed. The move came after Pakistan quietly amended its anti-terror laws to ban organisations listed as terrorist by the United Nations. The change was made by President Mamnoon Hussain on February 9 and notified by the law ministry on February 12.

 

TAKEOVER

Reportedly on Monday, authorities began seizing control of offices and financial assets of JuD and FIF.  In Rawalpindi, district officers had begun taking over the charities’ offices, a city official said. “We’ve taken over all the JuD and FIF assets.”  Similar actions were taken in other districts including Faisalabad, Gujaranwala and Multan.

 

WATER WOES

About water shortage, Ahsan stressed the need for devising a multidimensional strategy to address the issue and said improving water system of Pakistan has become top priority for his government.

He added a joint fund needs to be established by the countries situated along the coastal belt to speed up research as to how the sea water could be used for agriculture and other purposes.

He went on to say: “Today, space technology is guiding us in every aspect of economic activity. Efficient use of water is possible through the use of satellite technology. Islamic countries are lagging behind in the space technology and it is need of the hour to invest in the field to achieve the objective of sustainable development.” 

 

 

Pakistan struggles to fend off FATF move