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Cabinet approves measures to block terror financing

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News Analysis |

On 13 February, 2018, Federal Cabinet approved “Anti-Terrorism (Freezing and Seizure) Rules 2018” to block funding of terrorists, freeze their accounts and proceed against them in a meeting presided over by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi at the PM office.  The cabinet concluded that any funding to any terrorist entity, which is proscribed by the Interior Ministry will be blocked.

The law and security enforcement agencies would be instructed to take actions on any financial funding to terror outfit or sectarian organization under the rules. According to senior government officials these particular organizations are those that are enlisted as banned by the Ministry of Interior and the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA).

In March 2017, Pakistan’s Federal Government had finalized the rules to freeze and seize the assets of prohibited/enlisted terrorist organizations and persons on the basis of Schedule-IV of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), 1997.

Trump lambasts Pakistan and then senior US officials a few weeks later say Pakistan’s help is essential in eradicating terrorism in the region. It will be interesting to see if the implementation of the cabinet decision may be helpful to normalize US-Pakistan relations in the future.

The PM’s Sub-Committee on Choking Financing for Terrorists and Terrorist Organizations was also shaped mainly to stop terror financing through Hundi and Hawala. In the backdrop of these measures, the State Bank confirmed freezing some 4,461 bank accounts belonging to individuals placed on Schedule-IV of ATA, 1997.

To strengthen these measures, the National Action Plan (NAP) Implementation Committee, chaired by National Security Adviser Nasser Khan Janjua, has taken a decision to set up a central record office to share information about terrorists, militants and other criminals at the earliest and obstruct terror funding in October, 2016.  

Read more: Madrasa Reforms: Lynchpin of Pakistan’s efforts to combat terrorism

Moreover, other decisions have also been taken by the cabinet as it approved the Inter-Governmental Agreement between the Ministry of Energy and Oman’s Ministry of Oil and Gas for supply of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and POL products. It also agreed to sign an Inter-Government Agreement and Letter of Intent on Cooperation in the field of LNG between Pakistan and Italy and accorded permission to allow transit of a container with spare parts of Toyota vehicles from Karachi to Kabul.

Pakistan is always willing to cooperate in countering terrorism with the US but their government does not seem to be able to make up its mind on how to deal with Pakistan.

PM Abbasi also met Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider and his team at the PM Office and reiterated the government’s continuous support to uplift the socio-economic life of people of AJK by enhancing the budget for AJK from rupees 12 billion to 22 billion under the federal government and the initiation of various landmark projects, including Mirpur-Muzaffarabad-Mansehra Expressway and the establishment of Mirpur Special Economic Zone under the CPEC project.  

The United States has placed Pakistan on a global terrorist-financing watch-list, with an anti-money laundering form being added to a list of countries in the watch-list not following the regulations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). This image of Pakistan would deteriorate the country’s economic security and the prospects for foreign investment.

Read more: Lahore terrorism: abject failure of Pakistani intelligence & policing institutions

A meeting of FATF member states is due to take place next week in Paris, where the organization could adopt the motion on Pakistan. Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance, Miftah Ismail, told Reuters the United States and Britain put forward the motion several weeks ago, and later persuaded France and Germany to co-sponsor it.

It also agreed to sign an Inter-Government Agreement and Letter of Intent on Cooperation in the field of LNG between Pakistan and Italy and accorded permission to allow transit of a container with spare parts of Toyota vehicles from Karachi to Kabul.

He said, “We are now working with the US, UK, Germany and France for the nomination to be withdrawn. We are also quite hopeful that even if the US did not withdraw the nomination that we will prevail and not be put on the watch-list.”

The US-Pakistan relations are not smooth as the year 2018 started with the US suspension of $2 billion security aid to Pakistan for allegedly harboring militants in ‘safe havens’. Pakistan always remained the front line state in countering terrorism but currently cannot compromise its national interests by blindly trusting the US, as it wants Pakistan to do more.

Read more: RAW & NDS outsource terrorism: set prices to kill Pakistanis?

Pakistan is always willing to cooperate in countering terrorism with the US but its government does not seem to be able to make up its mind on how to deal with Pakistan. Trump lambasts Pakistan and then senior US officials a few weeks later say Pakistan’s help is essential in eradicating terrorism in the region.

It will be interesting to see if the implementation of the cabinet decision may be helpful to normalize US-Pakistan relations in the future.


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