Pakistan gets six more months to ‘fix’ anti-money laundering laws : Ministry of Finance

Pakistan has got six more months from the Asia Pacific Group - an arm of the FATF, to “fix” its anti-money laundering laws and take effective measures to curb terror financing and illegal remittances. (AFP/photo)
Updated 20 October 2018
0

Pakistan gets six more months to ‘fix’ anti-money laundering laws : Ministry of Finance

  • APG will visit Pakistan in March-April next year for another on-site review
  • Traders say Pakistan can increase its annual remittances from $20 billion to $40 billion

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has got six more months from the Asia Pacific Group (APG) — an arm of the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) — to “fix” its anti-money laundering laws and take effective measures to curb terror financing and illegal remittances.

“The APG delegation has pointed out lacunae in our different laws and we will plug them all soon through proper legislation,” Noor Ahmed, special secretary Ministry of Finance, told Arab News.
“Our institutions have explained their positions and actions taken so far to curb money laundering in their meetings with the APG delegation,” he said. “We have noted their recommendations as well.”
Pakistani officials, however, did not give details of what recommendations had been proposed by the APG delegation.
Pakistan was placed on the FATF “gray list” in June this year by the global watchdog in Paris after a review of the monitoring report of the International Cooperation Review Group.
This is the second visit by the FATF team in the past three months. In August, a FATF team visited Islamabad for a similar assessment.
Last week a Pakistani delegation also participated in an FATF meeting in Paris, to apprise the global watchdog about efforts to get off the “gray-list.”
Earlier, Pakistan and the FATF had also negotiated a 10-point action plan to be implemented by September 2019 to get off the gray list.
“We have got six more months to make our systems more robust and as per the international standard,” Saeed Javed, director general (media) of Finance Ministry, told Arab News.
He said that the APG would visit Pakistan in March-April next year for another on-site review and check the progress made in light of the group’s recommendations.
The FATF is an intergovernmental body established in July 1989 during a Group of Seven (G7) summit in Paris.
Its objectives are to set standards and promote the 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.
Dr. Farrukh Saleem, the government’s focal person on economy, earlier told Arab News that the government had finalized amendments in laws including the Federal Investigation Agency Act 1974, the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act 1947, the Customs Act 1969, and the Anti-Money Laundering Act 2010, to strengthen its financial system.
“The amendments proposed in these laws will be presented to the prime minister and cabinet for approval,” he said.


Tension builds in row over women’s entry into Hindu temple in Kerala

In this file photo taken on October 18, 2018 Indian Hindu devotees are pictured at the Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala in the southern state of Kerala. (AFP)
Updated 13 November 2018
0

Tension builds in row over women’s entry into Hindu temple in Kerala

  • Hindu women demand their right of religious freedom as 41-day festival approaches
  • Kerala polarized over female entry into the hilltop temple

NEW DELHI: Tension in the air as Sabarimala Hilltop temple in the South Indian state of Kerala is being prepared to open on Nov. 17 for a 41-day Hindu festival.
The tension pertains to the entry of females between the ages of 10 to 50 into the ancient temple of Ayyappa, a deity who devotees believe is celibate and abhors the entry into the temple of women of marriageable age.
The Indian Supreme Court, in a landmark judgment in the last week of September, laid down a rule that bars the entry of young women into the temple. This led to a severe protest across the state, with women being stopped forcefully from entering the temple.
Last month, when the temple opened for six days, at least 12 women tried to enter the hillside temple but a violent crowd blocked their passage, with police looking helpless. At least 560 women in the barred age group have enrolled for the annual pilgrimage that starts in less than a week.
“We are taking all kinds of steps to see that devotees can pay their obeisance to the deity in a peaceful manner,” S. Sreejith, the Kerala inspector general of police, told Arab News.

Political mileage
Before coming to the temple, devotees observe celibacy for 41 days and avoid all kinds of meat and alcohol. They also don black robes for the period.
“The soul of any temple is the deity inside. The deity Aayyappa is a bachelor and that’s why the entry of young women is regulated in the temple,” says Rahul Easwar, a Hindu right-wing activist with close links to the Sabarimala temple.
Talking to Arab News, Easwar said: “We will never say anything against the Supreme Court. We are fighting for our rights to believe and our rights to have our own faith.”
However, women rights activist Kavita Krishnan claimed that “the entire controversy is clearly politically manufactured by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).”
The BJP is looking for political mileage in Kerala — the state where it is a small marginal player,” added Krishnan, secretary of All India Progressive Women’s Association.
She pointed out that “the entire debate is concocted. It is well known that women’s entry was allowed until the 1990s, and it was stopped upon a court order. The Supreme Court order has only undone that order.”
The local government of Kerala, a coalition of communist parties, supports women’s entry into the temple.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, in a news conference on Saturday, said: “Opposition to changes in customs is quite natural. But there is no going back. Toilets, bathing facilities and accommodation facilities at Nilakkal will be set up for women devotees. The current crisis is temporary.”
K. Surendran of the BJP, however, said: “This is a matter of belief and the court should not interfere. Why does the court not interfere in the affairs of other minority religions?”
The BJP spokesperson in Kerala told Arab News: “The women who want to enter the temple are not devotees but activists. They are not believers.
“The local government is trying to polarize the issue by supporting women’s entry because it wants to gain the support of other religious minorities,” added Surendran.
Sandhya Acharya, a woman devotee who has registered to go to the Sabarimala temple, told Arab News that there is an “attempt to deny entry to women by calling them activists.
“Why should there be discrimination in the house of God in the name of gender?” she asked.
Rajesh Krishnan, a Kerala-based activist and intellectual, said: “The whole issue has polarized the society in Kerala. The issue has become all the more vicious after the BJP entered the debate and saw it as an opportunity to win over the people and make an entry into the southern Indian state.”
Around 42 review petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court and Tuesday the Apex court will decide whether it should revisit its judgment or not.