Pakistan avoids spot on global terrorism-financing watch list

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif. (Vasily Maximov/AFP)
Updated 21 February 2018
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Pakistan avoids spot on global terrorism-financing watch list

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will not be placed on a global terrorism-financing watch list, foreign minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif revealed in a tweet.
During a meeting in Paris, money-laundering watchdog the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) failed to reach agreement on a motion co-sponsored by the United States
“Our efforts paid, no consensus for nominating Pakistan (for the grey list),” Asif posted on Twitter.
However, the decision might only be temporary. He added that the FATF proposed a three month pause, “asking APG (Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering) for another report to be considered in June.”
The APG is an inter-governmental organization, consisting of 41 member jurisdictions including Pakistan, focused on ensuring that its members effectively implement the international standards against money laundering, terrorist financing and proliferation financing related to weapons of mass destruction.
Asif also thanked the countries that had supported Pakistan. “Grateful to friends who helped,” he tweeted.
He is currently in Moscow at the invitation of his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, and the pair have discussed Islamabad’s concerns about the FATF motion, in an attempt to secure Russian support in opposing it.
The draft resolution to place Pakistan on the FATF list was led by the US, with the support of the UK, France and Germany. US-Pakistani relations hit a new low last year when Washington, unveiled its new strategy for Afghanistan, and accused Islamabad of harboring and supporting terrorists.
The day before Asif’s tweet, interior minister Ahsan Iqbal, speaking in Pakistan’s National Assembly, described the FATF motion as “a tactic by the United States to pressure Pakistan.”
He added: “If Pakistan is placed on the watch-list, this will affect our budget and subsequently our military operations against extremists and militants.”
Last year, FATF’s International Cooperation Review Group resolved to scrutinize Pakistan’s perceived support of proscribed groups operating on its soil, and requested a report on the country’s efforts to combat the financing of terrorism.
Pakistan sent a delegation to Paris to defend the country in the face of the motion. It was led by Syed Mansoor Shah, director-general of the financial monitoring unit of State Bank of Pakistan, and included representatives from the Foreign and Interior ministries.
Dr. Miftah Ismail, adviser to the prime minister on finance, also joined the delegation in Paris on February 20. The previous week, he visited Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium in an attempt to win support in opposing the motion.
FATF is an intergovernmental body that was established in July 1989 during a Group of Seven (G7) summit in Paris. Its objectives are to set standards and promote the effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.
It currently comprises 35 members and two regional organizations, representing most major financial centers around the globe, along with observer countries, organizations and associate members.
Pakistan was on the FATF watch list from 2012 until 2015. It is desperate to avoid the financial restrictions that a return to the list would bring, as it tries to keep its economy growing with help of international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and Asian Development Bank.


Supreme Court nominee accuser agrees to testify before US Senate

According to President Trump, the fact that Ford remained silent until now shows the incident probably never happened. (AP)
Updated 1 min 3 sec ago
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Supreme Court nominee accuser agrees to testify before US Senate

  • Christine Blasey Ford’s decision followed days of negotiations and came after Trump turned against her and said her accusation could not be true
  • Ford alleges that Kavanaugh drunkenly assaulted her at a party when he was 17, she was 15 and they were attending private schools outside Washington in the 1980s

WASHINGTON: The woman whose sexual assault allegation threatens to bring down President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee has agreed to testify in the Senate, her lawyers said Saturday, setting up a dramatic showdown next week.
Christine Blasey Ford’s decision followed days of negotiations and came after Trump turned against her and said her accusation could not be true.
Ford “accepts the committee’s request to provide her first-hand knowledge of Brett Kavanaugh’s sexual misconduct next week,” said a message from her lawyers to the Senate Judiciary Committee, US media reported.
Hours later, multiple outlets including Politico and The Daily Beast reported the hearing would take place on Thursday, citing sources familiar with a phone call between the committee and Ford’s lawyers.
The tentative deal capped a day of frenetic developments, with time running out for Trump to get his hand-picked conservative judge confirmed — thereby tilting the Supreme Court firmly to the right for years to come — before November elections when Republicans risk losing control of Congress.
Earlier, the panel had given the California professor until 2:30 p.m. (1830 GMT) to decide whether to appear, after she rejected a Friday evening deadline imposed by the committee’s Republican leader, Chuck Grassley.
“Although many aspects of the proposal you provided via email, on (Friday) are fundamentally inconsistent with the committee’s promise of a fair, impartial investigation into her allegations, and we are disappointed with the leaks and the bullying that have tainted the process, we are hopeful that we can reach agreement on details,” read the lawyers’ letter cited by The Washington Post.
The White House criticized Ford for allegedly dithering. “But one thing has remained consistent: Brett Kavanaugh remains ready, willing and eager to testify as soon as possible,” it added.

Ford alleges that Kavanaugh drunkenly assaulted her at a party when he was 17, she was 15 and they were attending private schools outside Washington in the 1980s.
Kavanaugh denies knowledge of any such assault and wants to give his side of the story to the committee.
Grassley had wanted the hearing to take place on Wednesday, but Ford asked that it be held on Thursday at the earliest and to be able to call as a witness a man she says was present during the assault.
The committee’s Republican leadership turned down those demands.
After several days of maintaining a relatively neutral posture, Trump on Friday declared that Ford was lying.
“TAKE THE VOTE!” Trump tweeted, blaming “radical left wing politicians” for the controversy.

According to Trump, the fact that Ford remained silent until now shows the incident probably never happened — even if this runs counter to what experts say is the typical reaction of sexual assault victims afraid or too embarrassed to report.
“I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says,” Trump tweeted, “charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents.”
The senior senator for Trump’s Democratic foes, Chuck Schumer, called the president’s logic a “highly offensive misunderstanding of surviving trauma,” while Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein said: “We must treat sexual assault survivors with respect, not bully or try to silence them.”
Even one of Trump’s own Republican senators, Susan Collins — who sits on the Judiciary Committee — said she was “appalled by the president’s tweet.”
“We know that allegations of sexual assault are some of the most under-reported crimes that exist,” Collins said.
Trump’s outburst saw a new #MeToo era hashtag storm the Internet, with people — mostly women — sharing why they did not report being assaulted under the Twitter hashtag #WhyIDidntReport.
Ford told the Post she went public with her claims because she felt her “civic responsibility” was “outweighing my anguish and terror about retaliation” after the basic outlines of the story emerged in the media.
Ford’s husband, Russell Ford, was quoted by the Post as saying the thought that Kavanaugh could be considered for the Supreme Court after Trump took office troubled his wife so much that she considered moving as far away as New Zealand.
“She was like, ‘I can’t deal with this,’” Russell Ford said. “’I cannot live in this country if he’s in the Supreme Court.’“
Republicans are frustrated over what they say was the deliberate timing of the last-minute revelation of Ford’s allegation, accusing Democrats of seeking to prevent the process from finishing before the midterm elections in a few weeks.
For their part, Democrats say Republicans are mounting an unseemly rush to get Kavanaugh into the nine-member Supreme Court while they still control the legislature.
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