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Pakistan’s terror watchdog to target ‘dubious’ charities

Pakistani police officers examine a bullet-riddled vehicle following an attack by a gunman in Quetta on Feb. 28, 2018.(AP Photo/Arshad Butt)
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) signed an agreement with the Pakistan Center for Philanthropy (PCP) on Wednesday as the country strives to meet global standards in the fight against terrorism funding and money laundering.
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international watchdog, has said it will place Pakistan on its “grey list” of countries with strategic weaknesses on terrorism financing and money laundering in June.
FATF extended a three-month reprieve to correct irregularities before strict financial restrictions were imposed.
Regulation of non-government and non-profit organizations is a key part of the watchdog’s demands.
Organizations that comply with PCP will be accepted on NACTA’s white list of legally compliant entities. “It (PCP) certifies and verifies NGOs/NPOs and ensures the entities use banking channels for funding and that credible third parties conduct audits of those organizations,” NACTA official Qaiser Ashfaq told Arab News.
He said the move would promote genuine charity and humanitarian assistance organizations in Pakistan and discourage public donations to dubious unregistered entities or individuals.
A delegation of FATF’s Asian Pacific Group is due to visit Pakistan in April to deliver a list of requirements for an action plan to counter money laundering and terror financing.
NACTA officials said that the financial watchdog has yet to provide recommendations or list weaknesses in Pakistan’s financial monitoring system. Most of FATF’s standards were met before the regulator held its plenary meeting in February, they said.
Last week, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal lashed out at the US over criticism of Pakistan’s alleged weaknesses. “Recent FATF action 2 put us in grey is in violation of process & politically motivated 2 pressurize Pakistan (to) follow Trump admin policies. Our successes against terrorism are recognized internationally,” he tweeted on Saturday.
Defense analyst and former air vice-marshal Shahzad Chaudhry told Arab News that Pakistan should think strategically before confronting the US on its demands.
“Political manipulation will always take place if there is cleavage available to exploit that weakness,” he said.
However, Pakistani officials said that FATF’s decision would have no impact on the country’s $300 billion economy.
NACTA is working with departments to monitor and regulate the flow of funds and to close loopholes exploited to launder money, including terror financing.
The watchdog’s national coordinator, Lt. Cdr. Ihsan Ghani, said a task force formed last July would improve coordination between 27 agencies in Pakistan.
As part of the global measures, travelers will have to complete financial declaration forms on departure and arrival in the country. Up to $10,000 is allowed per person on departure, with a yearly limit of $60,000.