New Delhi: India’s attempts at highlighting Pakistan’s role in abetment of terrorism and financing of terrorist organizations globally is meeting with success with countries like the US and Russia backing New Delhi’s attempts to pressure Islamabad to stem the flow of funds to banned individuals and entities at forums like the international Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
In a report to the parliamentary standing committee on external affairs, the government said American and Russian support had ensured that the FATF, in its meeting in November in Argentina, called on Pakistan to report on the action it was taking to curb terror funding.
The report was tabled in Parliament on Friday and, according to two people familiar with the developments, recent moves by Pakistan to curb fund flows and seize control of charities and financial assets linked to Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) chief Hafiz Saeed could be seen as consequences of the FATF action. The FATF, an international body that combats money laundering and terrorist financing, has warned Pakistan it could be put on a watch list if failed to crack down on the financing of terrorism.
The parliamentary committee, headed by Congress party lawmaker Shashi Tharoor, had previously recommended that the Narendra Modi government take steps to counter “Pakistan’s misplaced and ominous strategy of deniability" of sponsoring terrorist groups aimed at destabilizing India as well as project itself as a victim of terrorism.
In its response, the foreign ministry said that India had kept up its efforts to highlight Pakistan’s links with anti-India terrorist groups and abetment of terrorism at various multilateral forums including the United Nations general assembly as well as during bilateral interactions.
“International bodies like the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) have expressed concerns at the continuing activities of the UN proscribed terrorist organisations like Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Falah-i-Insaniyat in Pakistan and the ease with which they continue to access funds. In recognition of these concerns, the FATF, at its plenary meeting on 2 November 2017 in Argentina, asked Pakistan to continue to report on the actions taken to curb terror financing for the proscribed individuals and entities and also asked the State Bank of Pakistan to report on the effectiveness of the measures taken to curb terror financing in Pakistan," the government said.
“It is pertinent to mention that the US and Russia have supported the efforts at the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to express concerns at the continuing activities of the proscribed individuals and entities in Pakistan. Their support has ensured that FATF, at its plenary meeting on 2 November 2017 called upon Pakistan to report on the action being taken to curb terror financing, especially in respect of the proscribed entities and individuals," the government added in its response.
Coincidentally, the tabling of the report with the government’s response came hours after the Trump administration in the US announced that it would suspend nearly all security aid—amounting to some $1.3 billion—to Pakistan in a sign of Washington’s frustration with its partner’s failure to crack down on terrorist networks operating there. US officials have over the years expressed frustration that Pakistan has allowed the main insurgent group in Afghanistan, the Taliban, along with members of the Haqqani network, an aggressive Taliban offshoot, to shelter within its borders, fuelling a war that has claimed more than 2,000 American lives and consumed vast US resources since 2001.
India on its part highlights the fact that Pakistan harbours groups like the Lashkar-e-Toiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammed to target it in Kashmir and other parts of the country.
According to the thinking in New Delhi, it is the focus by bodies like FATF that prompted Islamabad last month to formulate plans to seize control of charities and financial assets linked to LeT chief Hafiz Saeed. A Reuters report last week said the plans were outlined in a secret order from Pakistan’s finance ministry to provincial and federal governments. The order tasks provincial and other governments to submit an action plan for a takeover of Saeed’s two charities, Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and the Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation, that the US says are “terrorist fronts" for the LeT, blamed for numerous attacks in India including the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist siege that claimed 166 lives.