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ISLAMABAD: The FATF requirements to choke finances of banned outfits opened door for the state to further strangulate civil society organisations instead of curbing activities of the banned outfits, said former senator Farhatullah Babar.

He was speaking at a seminar held to discuss Pakistan’s Financial Action Task Force (FATF) commitments and its impacts and implications for civil society. The seminar was organised by National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) with support from Community World Service Asia.

The participants were informed that during its recent visit the FATF delegation found Pakistan deficient in four areas: supervision of anti-money laundering law, illicit cross-border movement of currency, poor investigation and prosecution and non-implementation of UNSC Resolution 1267 that also lists Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed.

“Despite parliament enacting the law the state has not moved to ban proscribed outfits from reappearing as is evident from the re-emergence of LeT under different names,” Mr Babar told the audience belonging to the civil society, diplomatic community parliamentarians and government officials.

He said pertinent facts about Mumbai attacks were well known as a result of the investigation. However, progress in the case has been stalled by delaying tactics by the defendants, frequent change of the trial judges, assassination of the prosecutor and retracting from original testimony by some key witnesses, he said.

“The real issue is not enacting laws but implementation of laws and it required political will and coming out of the denial mode,” Mr Babar said.

NCHR Chairman retired justice Ali Nawaz Chowhan said international requirements to enforce effective regulations for countering terror finance and money laundering often have impacts on grassroots, social and economic development and are viewed to limit the space and capacity of civil society organisations to respond to disasters and emergencies.

When such consequences occur, they are often referred to collectively as “shrinking operational space” or “shrinking humanitarian space”. He said Pakistan was added to the ‘grey list’ of countries involved in providing monetary assistance to terrorism and related causes after a meeting of the Financial Action Task Force in Paris in June 2018. 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.

He emphasised the need for a coordination mechanism between the relevant government agencies for the effective implementation of anti-money laundering and counterterrorism financing (CTF) laws. Failure to do so will result in shrinking working space for civil society organisations which work at the grassroots level.

Zafarullah Khan, the executive director PIPS, said it was essential for the international community to realise that the end result of cold war was going to be chaos. And it is chaos that kills civilisations. Banned militant outfits are not the creation of our society rather the consequences of what happened during those years.

“The contribution of civil/civic societies to repair the chaos cannot be ignored. Incentives need to be created which would be helpful to the consumers, the citizens of Pakistan,” he said.

Patechamuthu Illangovan, Director World Bank, said Pakistan’s economy needed to grow rapidly at eight percent instead of 4 to 5pc.

“Nearly two million jobs need to be created for financial flows that need to come. We need a robust banking sector. The World Bank stands behind Pakistan in order to provide jobs to the economy and is willing to work with the civil society, hoping the youth would be involved,” he said.

Senator Mohammad Ali Khan Saif said it was important to develop a counter narrative against terrorism and not just administrative policies.

Human rights activist I.A. Rehman was of the view that Pakistan already had many laws on anti-money laundering. The problem is with the implementation, and focused efforts should be directed on the implementation.

Published in Dawn, August 31st, 2018