Thu, Feb 15, 2018 - Page 6 News List

US pushing to put Pakistan on terror watchlist

Bloomberg

Police officers and paramilitary soldiers guard the site of a firing incident in Quetta, Pakistan, yesterday. Militants riding on motorcycles opened fire at a vehicle carrying paramilitary forces, killing some troops before fleeing, police said.

Photo: AP

The US is pushing to get Pakistan placed on an international terror-financing watchlist a month after US President Donald Trump suspended about US$2 billion in military aid to the nuclear-armed nation.

The US, along with the UK, has reported to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) that Pakistan has not complied with terrorism regulations, Pakistani Minister of State for Finance Rana Muhammad Afzal Khan said by telephone yesterday.

Khan said the body’s review is scheduled for early next week and that the charges were a “conspiracy.”

Pakistan gave a comprehensive reply to the allegations on Feb. 5, “but now they are adding some more items,” he said.

The move is the latest attempt from Washington to get Islamabad take more action against terror groups that allegedly have support and sanctuary within Pakistan.

Relations between the two nations have deteriorated drastically in the past year and in his first tweet this year, Trump said that Pakistan gave “lies and deceit” in return for US funding.

Being placed on the list would likely impede Pakistan’s access to global markets at a time when its foreign reserves are dwindling and external deficits widening ahead of national elections in July.

“Pakistan needs external sector help and tensions with the US do not help,” said Mushtaq Khan, a former chief economist at Karachi-based Bank Alfalah who now runs an independent consultancy and is no relation to the minister. “This will muddy the outlook.”

MUMBAI ATTACKS

Minister Khan said the US had pointed out the free movement of Hafiz Saeed — the alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks — and continual operation of his Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation charities, which are on a UN sanction list and have been accused of being fronts for militant groups.

Pakistan’s foreign secretary is to visit New York this week to discuss the issue.

“We’ll dis-operate them,” Rana Khan said, referring to Saeed’s charities. “We’re serious and want to stop them — we brought in new legislation, started increased scrutiny and working actively on seminary reforms.”

Pakistan on Monday announced that it changed a law and now allows its security forces to take action against groups on the UN Security Council list.

Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi also said in an interview this month that in the past two to three months Pakistan has “more or less complied” with sanctions against Saeed’s organizations.

However, Abbasi said that more action against Saeed himself was unlikely as “we have no charges against him.”

Saeed, who has repeatedly denied his involvement in militant groups or the assault in India’s financial capital, was released from house arrest in Lahore in November last year, provoking condemnation from the White House.

SAFE HAVEN

Pakistan has repeatedly denied providing safe haven for terrorists and has pointed to the thousands of military and civilian casualties it has sustained fighting insurgent groups on its soil.

FATF, an inter-governmental body to fight money laundering, had added Pakistan to its monitoring list in 2012, before removing it three years later.

This story has been viewed 1530 times.

Comments will be moderated. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned.

TOP top