Pakistan avoids terror-finance black list

Foreign Office spokesman Dr. Mohammad Faisal. (Photo courtesy: social media)
Updated 28 June 2018

Pakistan avoids terror-finance black list

  • Caretaker Finance Minister Dr. Shamshad Akhtar and her team presented Pakistan’s action plan during the watchdog’s plenary meeting in Paris
  • Economists say the move is bound to hit Pakistan’s economy as the listing is enough to deter foreign investment and foreign aid

ISLAMABAD: The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) decided on Thursday to keep Pakistan on its grey list after being satisfied with Islamabad’s 26-point proposed action plan to counter-terrorism financing and money laundering.

Pakistan could have found itself on the FATF’s blacklist if the global financial watchdog rejected its proposed plan.

“We were told in February that we will be placed on the grey list from June,” Foreign Office spokesman Dr. Mohammad Faisal said on Thursday.

“We will have to ensure the implementation of the action plan shared with the FATF while we are on the grey list.” Pakistan can be removed from the list “if adequate measures are taken,” he added.

The FATF will review Islamabad’s performance on the action plan in its next meeting in October, he said.

The FATF is an inter-governmental body that monitors its members’ progress in implementing necessary measures, reviews money laundering and terrorist financing techniques and counter-measures, and promotes the adoption and implementation of appropriate measures globally.

Caretaker Finance Minister Dr. Shamshad Akhtar and her team presented Pakistan’s action plan during the watchdog’s plenary meeting in Paris on Wednesday. 

Islamabad has taken enough measures since February to combat terrorism financing and money laundering, she said.

The US and its allies — including Britain, France and Germany — moved a motion against Pakistan in February seeking its placement on the grey list for not taking enough action to eliminate terrorism financing and money laundering.

That month, Pakistan was put up for monitoring under the FATF’s International Cooperation Review Group, known as the grey list. 

The Foreign Office confirmed in February after the Paris meeting that Pakistan would be officially placed on the grey list in June if it failed to take measures to curb terror financing.

Economists say the move is bound to hit Pakistan’s economy as the listing is enough to deter foreign investment and foreign aid, and will raise the cost of doing business in the country.

The international financial market runs on rumors, and Pakistan’s placement on the grey list is bound to impact the exchange rate and foreign reserves, said senior economist Dr. Athar Ahmed.

“We need to plug loopholes in our banking and financial system to satisfy the international community that Pakistan is doing enough to combat terrorism financing and money laundering,” he told Arab News.

Overseas Pakistanis send remittances of around $18 billion annually through banking channels, while some $10 billion annually are remitted through illegal channels such as Hawala and Hundi, he said.

“The money remitted by overseas Pakistanis through the illegal channels doesn’t come under the ambit of money laundering. They just do it to save banking charges and some government taxes,” he added.

“Pakistan isn’t in a position to finance terrorism. We’re a victim of terrorism, and the international community should support us instead of slapping sanctions.”

Sakib Sherani, a former economic adviser to the government, told Arab News: “Pakistan received $2 billion in foreign investment in the last 12 months. This may go down in the coming months due to its placement on the grey list.”

If Islamabad fully implements the proposed action plan, “this will help Pakistan improve its image among the international community, and be off the grey list in a year and a half,” he said.


Bollywood superstar Padukone summoned by police in drugs probe

Updated 23 September 2020

Bollywood superstar Padukone summoned by police in drugs probe

  • The 34-year-old’s suicide initially triggered a debate over mental health in the multi-billion-dollar industry
  • But his family disputed reports that he suffered from depression and accused Chakraborty of stealing his money

MUMBAI: Bollywood superstar Deepika Padukone has been summoned for questioning as part of an escalating drugs probe into the suicide of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, Indian police said late Wednesday.
The investigation has already seen actress Rhea Chakraborty arrested for allegedly buying drugs for her former boyfriend Rajput, who was found dead in June in his Mumbai apartment — with police saying he took his own life.
A star with many hit movies to his name, the 34-year-old’s suicide initially triggered a debate over mental health in the multi-billion-dollar industry.
But his family disputed reports that he suffered from depression and accused Chakraborty, 28, of stealing his money and harassing him. She has strongly denied the allegations.
Rajput’s death has sparked a media storm in India, where calls have mounted for a wider probe into Bollywood’s so-called “drugs mafia,” with television channels speculating that Chakraborty supposedly drove Rajput to suicide by purchasing cannabis for him.
India’s top anti-crime agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation, has been probing his death since last month. The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) was looking into his consumption of cannabis.
Earlier this week, TV channel TimesNow broadcast sections of a WhatsApp conversation about procuring hash, alleging that the two people chatting were Padukone and her manager.
K.P.S. Malhotra, deputy director of the NCB, told AFP the agency had summoned Padukone as well as actresses Sara Ali Khan, Shraddha Kapoor and Rakul Preet Singh for questioning.
The police have already detained others in connection with the case including Chakraborty’s brother and a member of Rajput’s house staff.
The investigation has grabbed headlines for months, and some celebrities including actresses Vidya Balan and Sonam Kapoor have accused TV channels of carrying out a “witch hunt” against Chakraborty.
Born in the eastern state of Bihar, Rajput quit his engineering studies to pursue a career in acting.
He got his big break in 2013 with “Kai Po Che,” a film about cricket, love, and politics that won acclaim at the Berlin film festival.
He was also lauded for his portrayal of Indian cricket hero Mahendra Singh Dhoni in a hit 2016 biopic.
In an interview with AFP that year, Rajput spoke of the emotional rollercoaster he experienced while filming the movie, which portrayed the heartbreak suffered by Dhoni when his girlfriend died.
“After we did the preparation, in my head I was him and everything that was happening was actually affecting me,” he said.