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.


Two Australian WWI soldiers laid to rest in France

Updated 51 min 37 sec ago
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Two Australian WWI soldiers laid to rest in France

  • Private Hedley Roy MacBeth, aged 31, and acting corporal James Leonard Rolls, aged 23, were killed in May 1917 during the second battle of Bullecourt
  • The bodies of the two soldiers from the Australian Imperial Force’s 24th infantry battalion were discovered by a disused railway track on May 23 May, 2015

BUISSY: Two Australian soldiers, killed over 100 years ago during World War I, were finally laid to rest in northern France on Monday as relatives stood by.
“He’s not an unknown soldier anymore, we know where he is,” said Robert MacBeth, 36, from Ballan, in Australia’s Victoria state, speaking of his great grandfather.
Private Hedley Roy MacBeth, aged 31, and acting corporal James Leonard Rolls, aged 23, were killed in May 1917 during the second battle of Bullecourt.
British and Australian troops managed to push back German lines during a week-long offensive which left 7,000 dead in the allied ranks.
“We are very happy, it’s very emotional that we’re finally burying him with full military honors and that he has been put safely to rest here in France,” Irene Darby, Rolls’ great niece, told AFP at the ceremony led by Australia’s Governor-General Peter Cosgrove at the Quéant Road Cemetery, near Buissy.
The bodies of the two soldiers from the Australian Imperial Force’s 24th infantry battalion were discovered by a disused railway track on May 23 May, 2015.
They were formally identified in August this year thanks to DNA testing of their relatives.
The two men were in a trench near the railway line when an artillery shell exploded nearby, according to army archives.
They will now rest alongside some 2,400 Commonwealth and German soldiers in the cemetery run by the Commonwealth war graves commission.
“The family always knew about James, he was spoken about at every Anzac Day,” Darby said.
“We can now say we found him and we can come and visit him now, we know where he is,” she added.
Almost 62,000 Australian soldiers were killed during WWI.
Historians believe the bodies of 700,000 of the 3.5 million soldiers killed on the Western Front are still missing.