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.


Trump: I am Israel’s best pal in the White House

Updated 11 min 2 sec ago

Trump: I am Israel’s best pal in the White House

  • Unlike his predecessors, Donald Trump says ‘I kept my promises’
  • The president also claimed there are some Jewish people in America who don’t love Israel enough

HOLLYWOOD, Florida: President Donald Trump said Saturday that Israel has never had a better friend in the White House than him because, unlike his predecessors, “I kept my promises.”
Trump energized an audience that numbered in the hundreds at the Israeli American Council National Summit in Florida by recounting his record on issues of importance to Jews, including an extensive riff on his promise to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and relocate the US Embassy there from Tel Aviv.
Trump said his predecessors only paid lip service to the issue.
“They never had any intention of doing it, in my opinion,” Trump said. “But unlike other presidents, I kept my promises.”
Trump also highlighted his decision to reverse more than a half-century of US policy in the Middle East by recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, the strategic highlands on the border with Syria.
Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Mideast war but its sovereignty over the territory had not been recognized by the international community.
In his speech, the president also claimed there are some Jewish people in America who don’t love Israel enough.
“We have to get the people of our country, of this country, to love Israel more, I have to tell you that. We have to do it. We have to get them to love Israel more,” Trump said, to some applause. “Because you have Jewish people that are great people — they don’t love Israel enough.”
Aaron Keyak, the former head of the National Jewish Democratic Council, denounced Trump’s remarks as anti-Semitic.
“Trump’s insistence on using anti-Semitic tropes when addressing Jewish audiences is dangerous and should concern every member of the Jewish community — even Jewish Republicans,” Keyak said.
Trump has been accused of trafficking in anti-Semitic stereotypes before, including in August, when he said American Jews who vote for Democrats show “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.” A number of Jewish groups noted at the time that accusations of disloyalty have long been made against Jews.
The Israeli American Council is financially backed by one of Trump’s top supporters, the husband-and-wife duo of Miriam and Sheldon Adelson, a Las Vegas casino magnate.
Both Adelsons appeared on stage to introduce Trump, with Miriam Adelson asserting that Trump “has already gone down in the annals of Jewish history, and that is before he’s even completed his first term in office.”
The Adelsons donated $30 million to Trump’s campaign in the final months of the 2016 race. They followed up by donating $100 million to the Republican Party for the 2018 congressional elections.
Trump’s entourage at the event included Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, along with Republican Reps. Jim Jordan and Michael Waltz, whom he described as “two warriors” defending him against “oppression” in the impeachment inquiry.
Trump criticized Israel’s sworn enemy, Iran, saying he withdrew the US from the Iran nuclear deal with other world powers because Tehran must never be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon
But Trump voiced support for Iranian citizens who have been protesting a decision by their government to withdraw fuel subsidies, which sent prices skyrocketing.
Trump said he believes thousands of Iranians have been killed in the protests and that thousands more have been arrested.
“America will always stand with the Iranian people in their righteous struggle for freedom,” he said.