Put back on terror-financing watch list, Pakistan vows to improve

Pakistani paramilitary soldiers on patrol near the site of an attack by Pakistani Taliban on February 14, which killed four paramilitary policemen. (AFP)
Updated 30 June 2018

Put back on terror-financing watch list, Pakistan vows to improve

ISLAMABAD: Placed back on a terror financing watch list this week, Pakistan vowed on Saturday to tighten regulations and follow an action plan to curb money laundering and terror financing.
Pakistani officials attending a meeting in Paris had tried in vain to persuade the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to keep Pakistan off a list of nations with inadequate controls to prevent terror financing and money laundering.
Western allies have long pushed Islamabad to do more to curb militant groups on its soil, and the United States, United Kingdom, France and Germany all argued back in February for Pakistan to be reinserted on the watchdog’s “grey list.”
Various anti-Western, anti-Indian Islamist militant groups are based in nuclear-armed Pakistan, while Afghanistan and western military officials have repeatedly complained about covert support in Pakistan for the Afghan Taliban and its cohorts, like the Haqqani group.
Pakistan was included on the watch list for three years until 2015, and FATF has told the government what needs to be done in order to be taken off again.
Finance Minister Shamshad Akhtar, who is part of the technocratic administration running the country until a general election on July 25, told FATF members in Paris that Pakistan plans to take a “whole-of-government” approach to strengthen counter-terrorism financing measures.
The finance ministry said Akhtar has set up an “institutional coordination and monitoring mechanism” to ensure that the action plan is implemented.
The return to a watch list could further handicap chances of attracting Western investment in Pakistan’s fragile economy, but it has China’s support for major infrastructure projects.

UK’s Johnson to visit European capitals seeking Brexit breakthrough

Updated 18 August 2019

UK’s Johnson to visit European capitals seeking Brexit breakthrough

  • Johnson will travel for talks with German Chancellor Merkel and French President Macron
  • Johnson is expected to push for the EU to reopen negotiations over the terms of Brexit

LONDON: UK's Boris Johnson will visit European capitals this week on his first overseas trip as prime minister, as his government said Sunday it had ordered the scrapping of the decades-old law enforcing its EU membership.

Johnson will travel to Berlin on Wednesday for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and on to Paris Thursday for discussions with French President Emmanuel Macron, Downing Street confirmed on Sunday, amid growing fears of a no-deal Brexit in two and a half months.

The meetings, ahead of a two-day G7 summit starting Saturday in the southern French resort of Biarritz, are his first diplomatic forays abroad since replacing predecessor Theresa May last month.

Johnson is expected to push for the EU to reopen negotiations over the terms of Brexit or warn that it faces the prospect of Britain's disorderly departure on October 31 -- the date it is due to leave.

European leaders have repeatedly rejected reopening an accord agreed by May last year but then rejected by British lawmakers on three occasions, despite Johnson's threats that the country will leave then without an agreement.

In an apparent show of intent, London announced Sunday that it had ordered the repeal of the European Communities Act, which took Britain into the forerunner to the EU 46 years ago and gives Brussels law supremacy.

The order, signed by Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay on Friday, is set to take effect on October 31.

"This is a landmark moment in taking back control of our laws from Brussels," Barclay said in a statement.

"This is a clear signal to the people of this country that there is no turning back -- we are leaving the EU as promised on October 31, whatever the circumstances -- delivering on the instructions given to us in 2016."

The moves come as Johnson faces increasing pressure to immediately recall MPs from their summer holidays so that parliament can debate Brexit.

More than 100 lawmakers, who are not due to return until September 3, have demanded in a letter that he reconvene the 650-seat House of Commons and let them sit permanently until October 31.

"Our country is on the brink of an economic crisis, as we career towards a no-deal Brexit," said the letter, signed by MPs and opposition party leaders who want to halt a no-deal departure.

"We face a national emergency, and parliament must be recalled now."

Parliament is set to break up again shortly after it returns, with the main parties holding their annual conferences during the September break.

Main opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn wants to call a vote of no confidence in Johnson's government after parliament returns.

He hopes to take over as a temporary prime minister, seek an extension to Britain's EU departure date to stop a no-deal Brexit, and then call a general election.

"What we need is a government that is prepared to negotiate with the European Union so we don't have a crash-out on the 31st," Corbyn said Saturday.

"This government clearly doesn't want to do that."

Britain could face food, fuel and medicine shortages and chaos at its ports in a no-deal Brexit, The Sunday Times newspaper reported, citing a leaked government planning document.

There would likely be some form of hard border imposed on the island of Ireland, the document implied.

Rather than worst-case scenarios, the leaked document, compiled this month by the Cabinet Office ministry, spells out the likely ramifications of a no-deal Brexit, the broadsheet claimed.

The document said logjams could affect fuel distribution, while up to 85 percent of trucks using the main ports to continental Europe might not be ready for French customs.

The availability of fresh food would be diminished and prices would go up, the newspaper said.