Pakistan may seek more time from FATF to curb terror financing.

• With China as chair of the FATF, Pakistan is likely to get a breather

• The Paris-based international terror financing watchdog kept Pakistan on the Grey List for an extended period till February 2020

Pakistan could seek more time from the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to comply with its demands to cut finances to terrorist groups, two people familiar with the matter have said, ahead of Islamabad this week submitting responses on queries sent last month by the global watchdog, demanding clarification and data on steps taken by Islamabad to curb terror financing.


One of the two people cited above pointed to a number of news reports and opinion pieces in Pakistani media in recent weeks that have suggested that Pakistan should be given more time to implement the FATF’s list of demands. One such piece by Khawaja Khalid Farooq, a retired inspector general of police and former chief of Pakistan’s National Counter Terrorism Authority, published on “The News" website pointed out that Pakistan had an “evolving counter-terrorism regime" that had to “grapple with deep structural impediments to achieving full compliance".

Farooq noted that it was “not an easy task to dismantle such long established (terrorist) networks".

“Kinetic operations have broken the back of terrorist outfits, and there will definitely be some time lag before these deeply entrenched groups in society can be weeded out. But, time is not on Pakistan’s side where the FATF is concerned," he wrote.

With China as chair of the FATF, which last month sent a list of 150 questions demanding more clarity on the steps, Pakistan said it had put in place to curb terrorist financing, Islamabad could get a breather given that Beijing is seen as Pakistan’s all weather friend. Pakistan’s progress in choking terrorism financing channels is to be analysed at an FATF meeting in Beijing later this month. It is here that Islamabad is likely to get support from Malaysia and Turkey for a respite – till June – to put its house in order, a second person said.

The FATF’s October plenary meeting in Paris had given Pakistan time till February to comply with 27 benchmarks set by the body in June 2018 and agreed to by Pakistan to escape being penalized – ie being put on the FATF’s blacklist. Blacklisting would put Pakistan in the company of Iran and North Korea. Though the move doesn’t amount to international sanctions, countries will be wary of investing in Pakistan knowing that it is not a jurisdiction seen as compliant with FATF rules. Just prior to the FATF’s October meeting, an assessment by the FATF’s Asia Pacific Group found Pakistan fully compliant only on one out of 40 benchmarks set by the FATF in June 2018 when Pakistan was first put on the “gray list." It was found to be non-compliant on 32 out of 40 compliance parameters.

India, on its part, will be looking towards a second FATF meet in February in Paris where New Delhi is expected to work through friendly countries like France to keep up pressure on Pakistan to cut off funding to terrorist groups like the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and its front organisation, the Jamaat-ud-Dawa charity. The LeT is blamed for the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack in which 166 people were killed while the JuD’s network includes hundreds of seminaries and schools. Recently, Pakistani authorities had produced in court Hafiz Saeed who heads the JuD and the LeT in court last month on charges of terrorism financing but the case was later adjourned. According to Indian government officials, the "little cleanup" of Pakistan's system that is happening is because of the FATF’s relentless focus on Pakistan. While blacklisting of Pakistan may be some distance away,New Delhi’s aim will be to ensure there is no let up in pressure on Islamabad to comply with the benchmarks set by the FATF at this point, the second person cited above said. (Source: Livemint)

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