Geneva: Ahead of the Financial Action Task Force’s plenary meeting scheduled to be held later this month, many countries said that Pakistan has not done enough to be “white-listed” for terror-sponsoring which makes Islamabad’s prospects of exiting the grey list dim.
According to The Taiwan Times, in 2018, the country was placed in the list of “jurisdictions under increased monitoring”, more popularly known as the Grey List and was given an Action Plan comprising 27 Action Items for compliance pertaining to prosecutions, money laundering, terrorism financing, and targeted financial sanctions to choke the flow of funds to designated terrorist organisations, terrorists and their associates.
“Although Pakistan claims that it has complied with 24 out of the 27 Items and largely complied with the remaining three too, making it eligible for “whitelisting”, countries that objectively evaluate its performance still believe that enough has not been done, especially when it comes to stopping the fund collection activities of proscribed groups and prosecution of terrorists for actual acts of terrorism,” wrote Paul Antonopolous, a Ph.D. candidate for The Taiwan Times.
“Pakistan has been skirting the issue of prosecution by repeatedly convicting a small set of individuals on terrorism financing charges, giving them concurrent sentences instead of cumulative, and totally ignoring their involvement in major terrorist cases,” he added.
Despite having friendly countries in the Asia Pacific-Joint Group of the FATF, Islamabad has failed to make the cut, he said adding that Islamabad’s prospects of exiting the Grey List are “dim given the unfettered fund raising activities of proscribed terrorist groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) / Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and their affiliates.”
“Pakistan’s main argument has been that the FATF process, which is supposed to be technical, is being politicised by a few countries to demand more than what is required,” he said.
“Its reluctance to put an end to the rather blatant fundraising activities of the LeT/JuD and JeM and complete impunity in ignoring their role in some of the most heinous acts of terrorism have convinced the international community of the lack of intent on Pakistan’s part to genuinely address the problem of terrorism.
Antonopolous said that recent print and social media posts of the LeT/JuD and the JeM reveal an alarming trend of over-ground activities including fundraising, promotion of Jihad and training.
He further said that the FATF does not have the means to verify the data presented by Pakistan. It trusts the information provided by the Government, as a result of which it has cleared 24/27 Action Items.
The Ph.D scholar pointed out, “The FATF is well aware that the sanctions against the Afghan Taliban never worked and the situation is no different for the LeT and JeM too. One can’t help get the feeling that Pakistan only takes action against the proscribed terrorist groups that are targeting it.””
In October, the FATF decided that Pakistan will continue to be on its grey list and asked it to continue to work on implementing an action plan to address its strategic deficiencies including demonstrating that its law enforcement agencies are identifying and investigating the widest range of terrorist financing activity and demonstrating that prosecutions result in effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions.
Pakistan has been on the FATF’s grey list since June 2018 and the government was given a final warning in February 2020 to complete the 27 action points by June in the same year.
Pakistan is facing the difficult task of clearing its name from the FATF grey list. As things stand, Islamabad is finding it difficult to shield terror perpetrators and implement the FATF action plan at the same time.