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US, UK, France voice concern over Pak inaction against Saeed, Azhar

PTI

New Delhi

The US, the UK and France are some prominent countries to have voiced concern over Pakistan’s failure to do enough to contain terror funding in its soil and not registering cases against terror masterminds Hafiz Saeed and Masood Azhar under anti-terror laws, sources said Friday.

Several countries expressed this view at a meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), currently underway in Florida in the US, according to people aware of the development.

Pakistan continues to state that it has done enough by seizing more than 700 properties of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Jamat-ud-Dawah (JuD) and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF), similar to what it did as a result of its previous gray listing in 2012. 

However, FATF members are concerned that there are no cases registered against the terror leadership, namely Saeed and Masood and other UN-designated terrorists.

India’s stand at the FATF Plenary and other related discussions have always been consistent regarding Pakistan.

India has steadfastly supported the move of four nominating countries — the US, the UK, Germany and France — in February 2018. 

These countries have voiced their concern that Pakistan is not doing enough to contain terror funding on its soil, the sources said.

One of the key points made by these countries is the absence of a proper understanding in Pakistan of trans-national risk i.e risk posed to neighbouring and other nations by designated terrorist organisations based in Pakistan.

In February in Paris and in May in Guangzhou, the same point had been highlighted by these countries and supported by India.

Another serious anomaly is that Pakistan’s anti-terror law still remains out of sync with FATF standards and also the latest UN resolution 2462, which calls for criminalising terrorist financing.

The FATF will release its public statement Friday night.

In June 2018, Pakistan was placed in the ‘gray’ list and given a 27-point action plan by FATF. This plan was reviewed at the last plenary in October 2018 and for the second time in February, when the country was again put into the ‘gray’ list after India submitted new information about Pakistan-based terrorist groups.

If the FATF continues Pakistan in the ‘gray’ list, it means the country being downgraded by the IMF, World Bank, ADB, EU and also a reduction in risk rating by Moody’s, S&P and Fitch.

This will add to the financial problems of Pakistan, which is seeking aid from all possible international avenues.

In a bid to bluff the financial watchdog, Pakistani authorities have shown arrests of LeT, JeM, JuD and FiF cadres.

But all were apprehended under its Maintenance of Public Order Act and not under the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.           

Under the MPO Act, authorities cannot hold a detainee beyond 60 days. Pakistan has detained JeM founder Azhar and LeT founder Saeed mostly under the laws that provide for detention for apprehension of breach of peace, they have never been prosecuted under anti-terror laws.

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