Washington: The US has urged Pakistan to continue working with the FATF to “swiftly complete” its 27-point action plan by demonstrating that terrorism financing probes and prosecutions target senior leaders and commanders of the UN-designated terror groups.
At its virtual plenary meeting last month, the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) retained Pakistan on its ‘grey list’ for failing to check money laundering, leading to terror financing.
It asked Pakistan to investigate and prosecute UN-designated terrorists based in the country like Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) founder Hafiz Saeed.
The global body against money laundering and terror financing also asked Pakistan to work to address its strategically important deficiencies.
At his daily news conference on Monday, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said while Pakistan had made progress on its first action plan of the FATF, it needed to work on its second action plan.
“We do recognise and we support Pakistan’s continued efforts to satisfy those (first action plan) obligations. Pakistan has made significant progress on its first action plan with 26 of 27 action items largely addressed,” Price said.
“We encourage Pakistan to continue working with the FATF and the international community to swiftly complete the remaining action item by demonstrating that terrorism financing, investigations and prosecutions target senior leaders and commanders of UN-designated groups,” he said.
The UN-designated terrorists based in Pakistan include Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Azhar, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) founder Saeed and its ‘operational commander’ Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi.
Azhar, Saeed and Lakhvi are the most wanted terrorists in India for their involvement in numerous terrorist acts, including the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks and the bombing of a CRPF bus in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district in 2019.
Price also said the US encourages Pakistan to expeditiously work on its new second action plan.
Pakistan was placed on the grey list in June 2018 and asked Islamabad to implement a plan of action to curb money laundering and terror financing by the end of 2019 but the deadline was extended later on due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pakistan has been scrambling in recent months to avoid being added to a list of countries deemed non-compliant with anti-money laundering and terrorist financing regulations by the global watchdog, a measure that officials in Islamabad fear could further hurt its economy.
With Pakistan’s continuation on the ‘grey list’, it is increasingly becoming difficult for the country to get financial aid from the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, Asian Development Bank and the European Union at a time when it faces a precarious financial situation.
Islamabad has managed to avoid the ‘black list’, for which it needs the support of three countries. China, Turkey and Malaysia have been its consistent supporters.
The FATF is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 to combat money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.