Pakistan to start action plan to curb terror financing before June

Pakistan’s interior minister says the Islamic nation will expedite steps to curb terror financing and money laundering a day after the country avoided ending up on a terror watch list by a global task force. (AFP)
Updated 24 February 2018
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Pakistan to start action plan to curb terror financing before June

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister of Pakistan Ahsan Iqbal said on Saturday, while talking to the media, that Pakistan has made all-out efforts to combat terrorism and will continue doing so. “We are fighting terrorism not to please the US, but for our own benefit,” he said.
Meanwhile, a top Pakistani official told Arab News that Pakistan has not been placed on the Financial Action Task Force's "grey list" during its meeting in Paris in the past few days.
“We will be placed on the grey list in June,” the official said who was representing Pakistan in the meeting in Paris.
He said that Pakistan’s foreign policy has been successful in heading off the motion co-sponsored by the US that was seeking to place Islamabad on the so-called grey list immediately.
The government official also clarified: “There is no chance of placing Pakistan on the blacklist even after June.” He said that Pakistan will be placed on the grey list only if a joint action plan with the FATF is not reached in June or Pakistan fails to cooperate with the task force.
 “The main objection of the FATF members to Pakistan was about implementation of its anti-money laundering laws,” the official said. “We are going to address this concern of the international community too through a cogent mechanism.”
Asif Ezdi, former Pakistan ambassador to Germany, termed the FATF action against Pakistan a political move pushed by the US and some Western countries.
“This is a warning for us,” he told Arab News. “We need to review our certain policies regarding terrorist financing to forcefully present our case at international forums.”
However, he defended Pakistan’s foreign policy, saying: “We are competing against powerful countries of the world with limited resources. Our ambassadors have been doing their best to highlight the achievements of Pakistan in the war against terror at international forums.”
Pakistan was on the FATF watch list from 2012 to 2015.
Dr. Ashfaque Hasan Khan, renowned economist and former economic adviser to the Ministry of Finance, said the cost of doing business in Pakistan will increase significantly if Pakistan is placed on the FATF grey list in June.
“The implementation of anti-money laundering and terror-financing laws has been strengthened worldwide and this will impact Pakistan negatively if placed on the grey list,” he said.
Pakistan’s credit rating would be downgraded, the transaction cost of doing business will increase and foreign direct investment will get hampered as an immediate impact of being on the grey list, he said.
Khan said Pakistan was in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) program and also floating bonds in the international market to generate funds while being on the grey list during 2012-15, but “this will not be possible now, given the international situation.”
According to a statement issued by the FATF at the conclusion of its session on Friday, Pakistan does not feature on the list of the countries with strategic deficiencies posing a risk to the international financial system.
The list now features Ethiopia, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tabago, Vanuatu and Tunisia, while Bosnia and Herzegovina have been moved to the white list.
The FATF is a UN-sanctioned inter-governmental body established in July 1989 by a Group of Seven (G-7) Summit in Paris. Its objectives are to set standards and promote 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.
The FATF currently comprises 35 members and two regional organizations, representing most major financial centers in all parts of the globe along with observer countries, organizations and associate members.
A senior Pakistani diplomat based in Europe, who is close to the team that represented Pakistan in the recent FATF meetings in Paris, also told Arab News that it was Pakistan's foreign policy that led to the success.
The Europe-based diplomat told Arab News that Pakistan will fully cooperate with the FATF and will work on an action plan between now and June. “We are sure that Pakistan will not be placed on the grey list even in June,” the diplomat asserted.


World 'won't rest' on Rohingya crisis, UK's Hunt tells Suu Kyi

Updated 40 min 30 sec ago
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World 'won't rest' on Rohingya crisis, UK's Hunt tells Suu Kyi

  • The Rohingya fled to neighbouring Bangladesh, where they joined about 300,000 already in cramped refugee camps, carrying accounts of extrajudicial killings, extreme sexual violence and arson.
  • Suu Kyi, a former pro-democracy icon, has seen a sharp fall from grace internationally due to her failure to address the Rohingya crisis.

NAYPYIDAW, Myanmar: British foreign minister Jeremy Hunt on Thursday called for justice on the Rohingya crisis after his visit to Myanmar's Rakhine state, telling embattled leader Aung San Suu Kyi the world "won't let it rest".
Hunt's rallying cry for accountability comes at the end of a busy two-day visit during which he visited Rakhine -- the epicentre of a brutal military campaign that drove out more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims -- and met with Suu Kyi.
"Burma needs to know the international community won't let it rest," said Hunt using Myanmar's former name.
Myanmar has set up an "independent" commission to address the army's crackdown against the Rohingya, rejecting the UN probe and calls for the International Criminal Court to investigate.
"If we don't see that process happening, we will use all the tools at our disposal to make sure there is justice... the world is watching," Hunt said after the meeting, which he said was "lively" and "frank".
The British foreign minister's visit came the same week UN investigators released a damning and meticulous report detailing why six Myanmar generals should be prosecuted for genocide against the Rohingya Muslim minority.
The Rohingya fled to neighbouring Bangladesh, where they joined about 300,000 already in cramped refugee camps, carrying accounts of extrajudicial killings, extreme sexual violence and arson.
The evidence warrants the charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, UN investigators said.
Hunt also brought up with Suu Kyi his "concerns" on the jailing of two Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who were sentenced earlier this month to seven years each under the state secrets act.
The pair had uncovered the extrajudicial killings of 10 Rohingya men in the Rakhine village of Inn Din -- something the army has since acknowledged.
Suu Kyi, who endured a total of 15 years of house arrest under the previous junta-led regime, said last week Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo's sentencing upheld the rule of law.
"She said she would look into it," Hunt said Thursday.
Before the meeting, the foreign minister was led on a three-hour, tightly-managed tour of Rakhine via helicopter, which included the Taung Pyo Letwe returnee reception centre, opened to receive the refugees even though virtually no Rohingya have come back.
Bangladesh and Myanmar signed an agreement last year to repatriate the Muslim minority but it has stalled as they fear returning to Rakhine without their safety and rights guaranteed.
In each of the three other locations Hunt was shepherded to, he found a pre-selected group of locals waiting to speak to him. At Pan Taw Pyin village, the final stop, he walked off to try to speak with nearby residents about their experiences despite the heavy security presence.
The military has consistently denied nearly all wrongdoing, insisting that its campaign was justified to root out militants, and Myanmar's ambassador to the UN on Tuesday slammed the UN probe as "one-sided" and "flawed".
Suu Kyi, a former pro-democracy icon, has seen a sharp fall from grace internationally due to her failure to address the Rohingya crisis.
Her supporters say her hands are tied by a still powerful military, which controls a quarter of parliament's seats and three ministries.
UN investigators say her government's "acts and omissions" contributed to the "atrocity crimes" in the crisis.
Hunt will head to New York next week for the UN General Assembly, where he will chair a foreign ministers' meeting Monday on Myanmar.
Suu Kyi will not be travelling to New York for the UN top meeting.