Pakistan on FATF's grey list
Pakistan is once again facing the heat of international bodies for its support to terror groups operating in the country and receiving official support. On June 27, Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) put the country on a grey list for failing to take steps and prevent terror financing. It was first put on the list in 2012 for a period of three years, which ended in 2015. This time, the country evaded being put in the blacklist by pledging to work on a 26-point plan to root our all sources of financing to terror outfits operating in the country. Pakistan has pledged to FATF that it would put an end to all financial sources of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Falah-i-Insaniat, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad, and other terror. If it fails to do so in the next 15 months, it would be put on the FATF's blacklist. The Jamaat-ud-Dawa is led by Hafiz Saeed who masterminded the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai in 2008. Daesh, the Haqqani Network, the Pakistani Taliban and al Qaida are also on the target of the FATF. Saeed has a US bounty on his head and is designated a terrorist by the UN. He lives in Pakistan and collects large amounts of money for his terror activities mostly targeted at India. "The freedom and impunity with which the designated terrorists like Hafiz Saeed and entities like JuD, LeT, JeM continue to operate in Pakistan is not in keeping with such commitments" by Pakistan so far, said India's external affairs ministry in a reaction to the news of Pakistan being put in the grey list of FATF. Pakistan is the ninth country to be placed in the FATF's grey list. The other eight countries are Ethiopia, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, and Yemen.
FATF is an intergovernmental agency that acts as an international watchdog against money laundering and other illegal financial activities through which international terrorist organisations collect and move funds. Pakistan is home to a large number of such terrorist organisations and they collect and use funds from various domestic and international sources for their nefarious activities. So far, the Pakistan government has been turning a blind eye to these illegal activities but it cannot do so now without attracting a further backlash from international watchdogs such as FATF. After it has been put in the FATF's grey list, all banking and financial transactions involving the banking and financial sector of the country would be put to greater scrutiny by their counterparts in other countries. At the same time, it will be difficult for Pakistani banks and financial institutions to raise funds from foreign banks and financial institutions. This would raise the cost of doing business in the country and lead to an overall rise in the prices of the commodities. The country is already going through a phase of sluggish economic growth, which is further aggravated by the suspension of military and civil aids from the US and other Western countries. Besides subjecting Pakistan's banking and financial sector to a greater scrutiny and making it difficult for the country to raise funds internationally, the latest move by FATF vindicates the stand taken by India, which has long been telling the country to stop supporting terrorist organisations operating from its land and causing bloodshed and unrest in India, and the US, which has recently recognised Pakistan as the country that indulges in doublespeak on the issue of terrorism by being with the US in its counter-terror missions and at the same time supports terrorist organisations that fight the US forces in Afghanistan. With fewer friends at the international level and a greater scrutiny of its activities, Pakistan has now come to be recognised as the hub of terror activities that threaten international peace and security. The country is also battling widespread poverty and unemployment. Instead of trying to set things right and choose the path of economic prosperity, the country has so far followed a policy dictated by so-called religious leaders who preach all sorts of retrograde ideas. Schools and colleges have failed to provide the new generation with the kind of education needed to be successful in life. The large population of the youth in the country are without relevant education and skills to make a living. They easily fall prey to the heady talks of revolution and jihad preached by religious leaders of dubious credentials, many of whom are terrorists themselves. Despite international criticism and humiliation, it's difficult for Pakistan to break free from its association with international terrorism. The time has come for the country to regret the wrong policies it has been following in the past decades.