Pakistan faces the Financial Action Task Force FATF blacklist threat?

Pakistan faces the Financial Action Task Force FATF blacklist threat?

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan faces the Financial Action Task Force FATF blacklist threat over JuD Chief Hafiz Saeed.

Pakistan received 150 questions from the anti-terror financing watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF) over the follow-up report submitted by Islamabad following the October review in Paris.

The review two months ago saw Pakistan fulfill five of the 27 suggestions by the FATF over the preceding 15 months.

The recent 150 questions seek clarifications from Islamabad over the achievements cited in the report and the plan of action heading into 2020 and beyond.

Government officials confirm that Islamabad is seeking further extension once the FATF meets for a review in Beijing next month, as Pakistan hopes to stay in the grey-list and avoid the dreaded sanction-loaded black-list.

In this regard, efforts were once again made to address activities of one group that has been cited in every single FATF meeting: the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD).

On December 11, a Lahore-based Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) indicted JuD Chief Hafiz Saeed in a terror-financing case, after Saeed had already been booked for similar offences in July.

On December 18, following a case filed by Gujranwala’s Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD), Saeed and his close aide Zafar Iqbal were indicted in another terror funding case.

Following the latest hearing this week, the case has been adjourned by the ATC till the next hearing on January 2. On January 8, Islamabad will file its responses to the FATF questionnaire, before the scheduled meeting in Beijing on January 21-24.

This is not the first time Islamabad has looked to enhance its sanctions, and take increased law-enforcement actions, against Hafiz Saeed just before an FATF review.

On February 12, 2018, an ordinance passed by then President Mamnoon Hussain amending the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 sanctioned a nationwide ban on Saeed’s groups, days before the FATF meeting in Paris the same month.

The decision to relegate Pakistan to the FATF grey-list was taken in that meeting.

Pakistan was formally placed on the grey-list in June 2018, with Islamabad being repeatedly warned of potential blacklisting, given continued inaction over the funding of proscribed terror groups, with Jamaat-ud-Dawa being frequently cited.

During the October review, Pakistan was given an “unsatisfactory” rating on 22 of the 27 mutually agreed points by the FATF.