Pakistan may face big setback at FATF counter terrorism watch list move by US

Pakistan may face big setback at FATF counter terrorism watch list move by US

ISLAMABAD - No country, except China, has committed to vote for Pakistan as it struggles to avert terror-tag at the six-day meeting of the Financial Action Task Force - a global body combating terror financing and money-laundering.

The FATF meeting started on Sunday in Paris and will also consider the United States’ resolution to place* Pakistan* on the terror watch list.

Senior officials *at* the foreign ministry told The Nation that Pakistan had contacted almost all the members of the FATF through diplomatic channels but “they showed inclination” to the US resolution against Pakistan .

One official said: “Some countries like Russia, Germany and Belgium gave a little hope but there was no commitment. Majority of the (FATF member) countries looked firm to raise their hands for the US. We are sure of one vote from China as they (China) have always supported <link>Pakistan <link> . “The development is, of course, shocking for <link>Pakistan <link> . We have been working to control the damage,” he said.

The 37 permanent members of FATF include Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, European Commission, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Gulf Co-operation Council, Hong Kong, China, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Russian Federation, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom and the US. Israel and Saudi Arabia have observer status.

Before the FATF meeting, Prime Minister’s Adviser on Finance Miftah Ismail visited Germany, Netherlands and Belgium to seek support. Federal minister Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari also visited Malaysia. Both of them did not return with the desired results.

The imminent FATF verdict will be a huge setback as major global financial institutions – including International Monetary Fund and World Bank – are under the FATF influence. The European Commission and the United Nations also give importance to the FATF. Last week, US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert had announced that a resolution to place <link>Pakistan <link> on the global terror-financing watch list had been submitted to the FATF. She said the US had been concerned about Pakistan’s actions for a long time. “We have therefore decided that we want to place <link>Pakistan <link> on an international watch list,” she added.

This month, the US had imposed sanctions on three individuals linked to ‘Pakistan-based militant networks’ in a bid to push Islamabad to crack down on the alleged perpetrators of attacks on Afghanistan.

The US Treasury Department designated the men as “global terrorists” for their alleged connections to Lashkar-e-Taiba and other groups. It came after the US blacklisted six people accused of supporting the Taliban and Haqqani network in Afghanistan, and stressed their links to <link>Pakistan <link> .

The decision targeted Rahman Zeb Faqir Mohammed, who collected funds for Lashkar in the Gulf. The other two blacklisted men - Hizb Ullah Astam Khan and Dilawar Khan Nadir Khan - were accused of acting on behalf of Sheikh Aminullah, who was sanctioned in 2009 for providing material support to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

The US has already suspended security assistance to <link>Pakistan <link>targeting the Coalition Support Fund. Heather Nauert said <link>Pakistan <link> will be able to receive the suspended funding if it took ‘decisive actions’ against the Haqqani Network and the Afghan Taliban.

<link>Pakistan <link> claims the money it had received from the US was mainly reimbursements for supporting US-led coalition forces after they invaded Afghanistan in 2001. Islamabad also made it clear that US aid did not run Pakistan’s the anti-terror or play a significant economic role.

Islamabad also threatened to end the partnership if pressed to the limits. Foreign Minister Khawaja Mohammed Asif even publically snubbed Washington saying the alliance with the US was “over”.

Earlier, US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan said his country could “consider ending a suspension” of security assistance to <link>Pakistan <link> if “decisive and sustained” action was taken against all the militant groups, referring to the Haqqani Network.

He told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: “We may consider lifting the suspension when we see decisive and sustained actions to address our concerns, including targeting all terrorist groups operating within its territory, without distinction.”

Another official at <link> the foreign ministry said <link>Pakistan <link> was in contact with the Muslim-majority countries to counter the US move. But, he added: “The influential Muslim-majority countries are allies of the US. The others are mere numbers. They do not have international status,” he remarked.

Foreign office spokesperson Dr Mohammed Faisal said <link>Pakistan <link> was committed to combating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. “Such motions (like the resolution being considered by the FATF) are aimed to hamper the economic growth of <link>Pakistan <link> ,” he added.

Defence analyst Brig (retd) Harris Nawaz said the US should not target <link>Pakistan <link> as “Pakistan has given huge sacrifices in the war on terrorism.” He said the US should also monitor India’s intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing, which was involved in terrorist activities across <link>Pakistan <link> .

“They (the US) are discriminating. They are ignoring India’s terrorism and criticizing our war on terrorism. This is hard to understand. We have lost lives and money and we are being blamed of sponsoring terrorism,” he argued.