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.


Zimbabwe rally blast injured 41: minister

Updated 51 min 15 sec ago
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Zimbabwe rally blast injured 41: minister

  • A blast that rocked a rally in which Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa narrowly escaped unscathed injured at least 41 people, including his two deputies
  • Footage circulating on social media showed an explosion and plumes of smoke around the president as he descended stairs from the podium at the city’s White City stadium

BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe: A blast that rocked a rally in which Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa narrowly escaped unscathed injured at least 41 people, including his two deputies, the health minister told a state Sunday paper.
Health Minister David Parirenyatwa, said wounded rallygoers had been treated at three main hospitals across the city and “a total of 41... have so far approached our health institutions complaining of injuries.”
Footage circulating on social media showed an explosion and plumes of smoke around the president as he descended stairs from the podium at the city’s White City stadium.
Mnangagwa said he was the target of the attack, which also injured Vice Presidents Kembo Mohadi and Constantino Chiwenga.
The device “exploded a few inches away from me — but it is not my time,” the president told state broadcaster on Saturday night, blaming the attack on his “mortal enemies.”
“These are my mortal enemies and the attempts have been so many.
“It’s not the first attempt (on) my life. I’m used to it. Six times my office has been broken into; cyanide was put in my offices so many times. I will continue.”
The health minister said some of those wounded had lost limbs and some would require “serious surgery,” suggesting the number of injured could rise as the government was still consolidating numbers from the various hospitals.
“We have no fatalities so far,” said Parirenyatwa.
Mnangagwa, who was quickly rushed away from the scene of the explosion, later visited the injured in hospital.
While Bulawayo has long been a bastion of opposition to the ZANU-PF and it was Mnangagwa’s first rally in the city, commentators suggest the attack could have been instigated by internal ructions within the ruling party.
The polls in five weeks will be the first since Zimbabwe’s veteran leader Robert Mugabe resigned following a brief military takeover in November last year after 37 years in power.
The intervention by the army was led by Chiwenga who was then head of the armed forces.
The vote will be a key test for Mnangagwa, 75, who succeeded the 94-year-old autocrat and remains untested at the ballot box.
He has pledged to hold free and fair elections as he seeks to mend international relations and have sanctions against Zimbabwe dropped.
Previous elections in Zimbabwe have been marred by electoral fraud, intimidation and violence, including the killing of scores of opposition supporters in 2008.