The Paris-based terror-financing watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), had to walk the tightrope of India-Pakistan relations at its plenary this week that ended with Pakistan staying on the grey list despite India’s push for blacklisting and Islamabad’s efforts to be delisted.
At the plenary, the FATF said it “notes with grave concern and condemns the violent terrorist attack last week that killed at least 40 Indian security forces in Pulwama in the State of Jammu and Kashmir”.
Placed on the grey list last summer, the FATF gave Pakistan time till May 2019 to take all the actions specified to combat money-laundering and terror-financing to avoid blacklist in October.
India, post-Pulwama, had made a renewed push to fast-track the process.
In a public statement issued after the conclusion of the plenary, the FATF said Pakistan had taken steps towards anti-money laundering (AML) and combating the financing of terrorism (CFT) since the “high-level political commitment” in June 2018 to work on its counter-terrorist financing-related deficiencies, including the operationalisation of the integrated database for its currency declaration regime.
“Pakistan has revised its TF (terror financing) risk assessment, however, it does not demonstrate a proper understanding of the TF risks posed by Da’esh (Islamic State), AQ, JuD, FiF, LeT, JeM, HQN, and persons affiliated with the Taliban.
“Pakistan should continue to work on implementing its action plan to address its strategic deficiencies,” the statement said.
Pakistan has been asked to demonstrate a proper understanding of the TF risks posed by the listed terrorist groups; ensure that remedial actions and sanctions are applied in cases of AML/CFT violations, and that these actions have an effect on AML/CFT compliance by financial institutions; demonstrate that competent authorities are identifying and enforcing action against illegal money or value transfer services (MVTS) and cash couriers; and show that law enforcement agencies are identifying and investigating the widest range of TF activities.
Also, Pakistan has to display effective implementation of targeted financial sanctions (supported by a comprehensive legal obligation) against all 1267 and 1373-designated terrorists and those acting for or on their behalf, including preventing the raising and moving of funds, identifying and freezing assets (movable and immovable), and prohibiting access to funds and financial services.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang told reporters in Beijing that the mention of the Jaish-e-Mohammed in the United Nations Security Council statement on Pulwama does not mean a judgment on the incident.
In the statement, the UNSC said: “The members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the heinous and cowardly suicide bombing in Jammu & Kashmir, which resulted in over 40 Indian paramilitary forces dead and dozens wounded on February 14, 2019, for which Jaish-e-Mohammed has claimed responsibility.”
The UNSC also underlined the need to hold perpetrators, organisers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible for acts of terrorism accountable, and urged all states to cooperate actively with India in accordance with their obligations under international law and relevant Security Council resolutions.
Jaish is an UN-banned organisation but its chief Masood Azhar is not listed as a designated terrorist under the 1267 Sanctions Committee.
India had viewed the mention of Jaish in the UNSC statement as a reflection on its diplomatic offensive post-Pulwama. Sources said both permanent members, including China, and non-permanent members of the UNSC had given their unanimous support to the statement. “It contained specific language that India had proposed via partner countries including the naming of JeM, and bring perpetrators to justice.”
The Chinese spokesperson’s subsequent clarification indicates that not much ought to be read into the naming of Jaish and it does not mean a shift in Beijing’s position on designating Azhar as a terrorist under the 1267 Sanctions Committee. China has invoked its veto power to block four efforts in the past to designate him a terrorist at the UN.
According to a PTI report from Beijing, Geng — when asked at a news briefing if the UNSC statement means it has evidence to hold Jaish responsible — said that though it mentions a particular organisation, it does not mean a judgment on the incident.
China also flagged the fact that the Pakistan government had expressed willingness to cooperate with India in the investigation and resolve their disputes through dialogue. He also hoped that the two countries would continue to exercise restraint and hold dialogue to jointly safeguard regional peace and stability.