Financial Action Task Force is meeting in Paris later this month and will decide whether Pakistan has taken sufficient action to avoid being blacklisted.
- Dr Gulrez Sheikh
A Pakistani anti-terrorism court in Lahore has sentenced Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, a designated global terrorist by the United Nations and with a US bounty of $10 million, on two counts and for five and a half years' prison in a case related to terror financing. He is sentenced to six months' imprisonment for being a member of a "proscribed organisation" , and another five years for a charge related to "illegal property”. His associate Zafar Iqbal had also been convicted and sentenced to the same term.
The judgement comes just days ahead of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) meeting in Paris (from 16-21 feb 2020). FATF is an intergovernmental watchdog that monitors terrorism and criminal financing law. The key decision in the meeting will be on whether Pakistan has taken sufficient steps to avoid being "blacklisted", a designation that would come as a blow to the economically crumbled state and already sitting on the doorsteps of the IMF. Blacklisting would isolate Pakistan from the international banking system, introducing stricter checks and safeguards on transactions involving the country.
Last year, under pressure after the FATF, Pakistan formally (or for formality) banned Saeed's JuD and other associated organisations, after years of allowing them to operate freely across the country. Till day Pakistan has not taken any action against terrorists responsible for Mumbai, Pathankot and various other attacks in India. Till day not a single terrorist, acting against India and its citizens has been convicted in Pakistan.
While US has praised Pakistan for acting against Saeed, this praise has nothing to do with combating terror, but everything to do for American dream to exit Afghanistan. The west must understand that if it is really determined to crush terror and its network, then it has to raise its standard of dealing with rouge states (providing pedigree to terror) and may have to jeopardise small battles to win the war. But such determination is not yet evident.
As we always say that the timing speak a lot, here too, timing is not just speaking but drumming, that the action against Saeed has nothing to against terror but its target is to shoot the hanging sword of FATF on Pakistan’s neck.