Pakistan has failed to fulfil 25 out of the 27 action points that were given by the international terror financing watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to keep a check on the funding of terrorist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) as well as frontal groups like Jamat-ud-Dawah (JuD) and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF).
Pakistan continues to be in the FATF Grey list which means that lenders like the IMF, the World Bank and the EU may continue downgrading Pakistan causing more financial woes for the already poorly performing economy. In the wake of the ongoing economic crisis, the Pakistan military had recently voluntarily trimmed down its defence budget.
Pakistan has previously shown the arrest of LeT, JeM, JuD and FiF cadres in a bid to fool the FATF. However, they were not arrested under the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 but under its Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) Act. Which meant that the detainees could only remain a maximum of 60 days in custody.
JeM founder Masood Azhar and LeT founder Hafiz Saeed have for the most part been arrested only for breach of peace and never prosecuted under anti-terror laws.
The mere arrest of terrorists does not satisfy the requirements of FATF. They ask for a freeze of funds, denial of access to weapons and travel embargo. They also want nations to impose penalties that are proportionate and dissuasive. Arrest under the MPO does not meet these requirements and hence it does not satisfy the FATF.
Several hundred properties have been seized by the Pakistan government and are now being funded by provincial governments. Punjab provincial government has allocated USD 2 million per annum for their upkeep. Similarly, other provinces have allocated USD 5 million.
The FATF has now asked Pakistan to explain whether they had launched the investigation into the USD seven million allocated to maintain schools, madrasas, clinics and ambulances which are originally owned by several terror groups.
Last month India had said that it would ask FATF to put Pakistan on a blacklist of countries that fail to meet international standards in stopping financial crime. In March, the already Grey listed Pakistan had asked FATF to remove India as its Asia-Pacific co-chair for well-known “animosity between two countries” and “unbiased review process”.