China may not be able to shield Hafiz Saeed

Arif Qureshi

Islamabad: Ahead of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) meeting, scheduled to be held from February 18 to 23, in Paris. The Federal Government of Pakistan started taking control of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and its relief wing Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) movable and immovable assets under the amended Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997. On Friday, February 9, the Ministry of Law and Justice announced that President of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain amended the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 via Ordinance No II of 2018 to proscribe entities banned by the United Nations (Security Council) Act 1948. The ordinance amends a section of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), enabling the authorities to take action against UNSC-proscribed individuals and terrorist outfits such as sealing their offices and freezing their bank accounts.

Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and its charity wing Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) have relief operations in Punjab, Balochistan, Sindh, Azad Kashmir and northern areas of Pakistan. The government has started taking over  schools, dispensaries, ambulances and other assets of Hafiz Saeed’s group. Rana Sanaullah, law minister for Punjab province, said on Wednesday that Pakistan’s interior ministry had issued a notification against the Saeed-founded Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) charity, as well as its associated organization, the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF). “We’ve received the interior ministry directions, and according to that, Hafiz Saeed and his charities, like JuD and FIF, have been banned to operate in Pakistan,” Sanaullah told Reuters news agency. “As per the instructions, we have already started taking over all the facilities, offices, schools, dispensaries and seminaries which belong to the JuD and FIF.”

The provincial government of Sindh, has replied expressing its inability to take over the humanitarian operations across the province operated by FIF. The Baluchistan government has stated there is no presence of JuD and FIF in the province and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government is yet to send its reply on the matter, reported in media.

According to VOA the United States has cautiously welcomed the steps Pakistan has taken this week to ban individuals and groups on the United Nations Security Council list of “terrorists.” But U.S. officials are not saying whether the move is enough for Washington to ease up on its push to add Pakistan to an international terrorism-financing watch list. “We look forward to additional information on how these steps are being implemented and what concrete steps are being taken to counter the groups, which is crucial,” a State Department spokesperson said.

All eyes set on China, all weather friend of Pakistan whether China will be in position to bail out Pakistan from this unbalancing situation? Crucially, during the November FATF plenary, Pakistan found that its ally, China, was unable to shield it. China, according to the financial daily, found itself isolated at the November FATF meet when all the other 36 member nations, including the US, Russia, France, and the UK, supported India. last year in November, despite China’s opposition, FATF asked Pakistan to submit a compliance report on actions taken against terrorist groups by February 2018. Now analysts believe that it will be very tough for China to shield in a case where no one across the world on board with China.

In its June 2017 meeting in Spain’s Valencia, the FATF closely scrutinized Pakistan’s record on terror financing. A report on Pakistan’s complicity in terror financing was discussed at the FATF Plenary that took place from June 18-23. As per the report, certain entities designated under UN Security Council Resolution 1267 continued to receive and disperse funds without controls being applied by the competent authorities in Pakistan. As a consequence, FATF’s ICRG requested its regional arm Asia Pacific Group (APG) to provide the revised follow-up report on Pakistan. The ICRG asked APG to provide the report following the discussion over it at the APG annual meeting in July 2017.

According to the reports, Islamabad is facing a Washington- and New Delhi-led attempt to get Pakistan included in FATF’s international money-laundering and terror-financing ‘grey list’. In this backdrop, Pakistan’s National Security Committee had directed the concerned ministries to “complete the few outstanding actions at the earliest” for complying with the FATF’s requirements, the report added.

If the FATF finds the progress of countries on cracking down on these financial networks used by terrorist organizations tardy, then it can put such countries under a ‘grey list’ or worse, under a ‘black list’. Then it becomes much harder for countries to access multilateral donor agencies and financial institutions to access money either for servicing their own sovereign debts or for international projects being undertaken in those respective countries. Pakistan has about 3 billion dollars of debt which it has to service this coming summer, which explains why it doesn’t want to be ‘grey listed’ by the FATF.

President of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain on last Monday signed the ordinance aimed at cracking down on terrorist organizations and individuals, which have been banned by United Nations Security Council (UNSC). The UNSC sanctions’ list includes terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM), to name a few.

The FATF was established in 1989 to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and combat other related threats to the international financial system. It has developed a series of recommendations that are recognized as the international standard for combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

Hafiz Saeed, reacted harshly has said that he will challenge the government’s “illegal” action in the court of law after Pakistan launched a crackdown on seminaries and health facilities run by him.

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