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)
Updated 14 March 2018

Pakistan’s terror watchdog to target ‘dubious’ charities

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.

Jakarta literary festival aims to give a voice to the voiceless

Updated 31 min 30 sec ago

Jakarta literary festival aims to give a voice to the voiceless

  • The four-day festival features authors from the Middle East and Africa
  • The festival unites international authors with dozens of fellow writers from Indonesia

JAKARTA: The inaugural Jakarta International Literary Festival commenced on Tuesday evening with a focus on bringing together writers and literary works from the Global South. 

Festival Director Yusi Avianto Pareanom said that the organizer, the Literary Committee of the Jakarta Arts Council, wanted to emphasize the importance of creating balance in a discourse that has been dominated by work from the Global North.

The four-day festival features authors from the Middle East and Africa, such as Legodle Seganabeng from Botswana, Adania Shibli from Palestine, Bejan Matur from Turkey, Zainab Priya Dala from South Africa, Shenaz Patel from Mauritius, Momtaza Mehri from Somalia and many authors from Southeast Asian countries.

The festival unites international authors with dozens of fellow writers from Indonesia at the Taman Ismail Marzuki arts and cultural center in Jakarta between Aug. 20 and 24.  

“Our theme ‘Fence’ highlights that we want to unlock and deconstruct the barriers that separate us, so that these writers can get to know each other,” Yusi told Arab News. 

“From authors like Adania Shibli, we can enrich our knowledge about Palestine and its literary scene. There are plenty of ways to portray a situation. Through Shibli, we can get understand Palestine through its literary side.

“By featuring Bejan Matur, we know that there is another prominent Turk author apart from the world-renowned Orhan Pamuk,” he added. 

Shibli delivered her keynote speech titled “I am not to speak my language” at the opening of the festival, in which she described how the Israeli occupation has silenced Arabic-speaking Palestinians.

“The phenomenon of Palestinians taking refuge in silence whenever they are around Hebrew speakers in Palestine or Israel is not unfamiliar,” Shibli said.

She added that decades of military occupation had made speaking in Arabic a fraught experience. 

“Colonialism, however, does not only show contempt toward the colonized, their history and their culture by silencing them, but also toward their language,” she said.  

Shibli described how the nationality law, which the Israeli government passed in July 2018, strips Arabic of its designation as an official language and downgrades it to a special status. 

“Arabic was downgraded from a language into a threat a long time ago,” she added. 

Yusi said that what Shibli described in her speech is relevant to similar situations in other countries, including Indonesia. 

Multilingual Indonesia has more than 700 actively spoken local dialects, with 652 of them verified by the Ministry of Education and Culture. Many of the remaining dialects are in danger of dying out due to diminishing speakers, especially among the younger generation.