Despite being given a long rope to stop sponsoring terror outfits and check terror financing, Pakistan has failed to convince the international community with credible and verifiable actions. It is, therefore, not surprising at all that the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the Paris-based global watchdog on terror funding, has decided to retain Pakistan on the ‘grey list’ and asked it to take action on specific points relating to money laundering and terror financing before June this year. The latest move proves that Islamabad has been unable to cut its umbilical cord with terror outfits even in the face of global isolation. It must be pointed out that Pakistani courts recently ordered the release of Omar Sheikh, the terrorist involved in the murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl. It is clear that the Pakistani judiciary has been working on dictates of the military which sponsors terrorism. Pakistan has been on the FATF’s grey list since June 2018. The reason it keeps entering the grey list is because of its failure to shut all access to funding of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC)-designated terrorist groups, including the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad. The international community keeps asking Islamabad to prosecute leaders for accessing illicit funds and to tighten laws and banking security regulations relating to terrorist groups. The Imran Khan government was given a final warning in February 2020 to complete the 27 action points by June in the same year. Apparently, Islamabad is finding it difficult to shield terror perpetrators and implement the FATF action plan simultaneously as it addressed only 24 of the 27 action items.
Pakistan must realise the grave consequences of its policy of using terrorism as an instrument of state policy at the behest of military bosses. It has suffered a total of $38 billion in economic losses due to FATF’s decision to thrice place the country on its grey list. The losses are worked out on the basis of a decrease in consumption expenditures, foreign direct investment and exports. Pakistan must demonstrate its sincerity in implementing targeted financial sanctions against all the designated terrorists. And, the courts must give decisive and proportionate punishment to those involved in terrorism. Pakistan’s anti-terror law remains a sham and out of sync with standards set by the international body. The 39-member FATF has rightly highlighted the “serious deficiencies” of the Pakistani government in the “realm of terror financing.” Any country, if put on the FATF grey list, would make serious efforts to completely shut down access to funds for terrorist groups. But Pakistan, which has been in and out of the grey list thrice in the last ten years, seems to be doing just enough to avoid the blacklist.
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