Genuine demand

Pakistan has rightly asked the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) president to replace India with any other member to co-chair the Asia Pacific Group meetings because it’s open hostility towards Pakistan. India had called for blacklisting of Pakistan in the February 8 meeting of International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG). India can use its narrative regarding, 26/11 Mumbai attack, Pattankot incident, the contents of the planted story of Dawn leaks and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif interview with a staff member of the same daily at Multan Airport in 2017 as supporting material against Pakistan.

However, the ICRG concerns were justified about Pakistani authorities’ earlier decision of low risk profiling of certain proscribed organisations against which a crack down has now been launched. A few days ago federal finance secretary Arif Ahmad Khan described the action against banned entities a step in the right direction. He warned that economic sanction may be slapped on Pakistan if it fails to implement FATF recommendations for strengthening the anti-money laundering and counter terror financing regimes. In the ongoing robust actions bank assets of the banned outfits have freezed, charitable and infrastructure have been taken over by the provincial governments besides control of the seminaries belonging to these organisations. The leaders and workers of banned outfits have also been detained. If earlier precedents of getting bails from law courts by the detained leaders of proscribed organisation are any guide then their prosecution under law of the land is inevitable as half hearted measure will not convince the international community about seriousness of Pakistan’s present government about strengthening the counterterrorism regime. Political wing of a banned militant group was allowed to mainstream itself and take part in 2018 elections. Likewise, another little known extremist group participated in the mainstream politics. These developments have dinted the image of the country. It is pertinent to mention that the leaders of religious parties have expressed their resentment over the operation against the international and nationally banned groups.

In the past the financial regulators particularly, the State Bank of Pakistan has not performed its role to curb money laundering and choking sources of finances to the banned organisations through banking channels. A policy of masterly inactivity was pursued giving latitude to high profile political personalities to carry out money laundering on large scale through fake bank accounts. Comprehensive legislation and codification of laws thereon with strict implementation can ensure legal framework for strengthening the anti-money laundering and counterterrorism financing regimes. Hopefully, the opposition parties will lend their support to the government as when the draft of this legislation is tabled in the parliament.

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