The federal government on Monday issued an order to streamline the process for implementation of sanctions against individuals and entities designated by the United Nations Security Council, the Foreign Office announced.
The United Nations Security Council (Freezing and Seizure) Order, 2019, has been issued in accordance with the provisions of Pakistan’s United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Act, 1948.
FO Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal said the government has taken over the control of all proscribed outfits operating in the country.
"[From now onwards], all kinds of assets and properties of all [banned] organisations will be in the government's control," the spokesperson told DawnNewsTV.
He added that the government will now also seize the charity wings and ambulances of such banned outfits.
"The objective of the [order] is to streamline the procedure for implementation of Security Council Sanctions against designated individuals and entities," the FO spokesperson said in a statement.
The handout explained that the UN Charter authorises the UNSC to decide measures, "not involving the use of armed force", that governments should implement to give effect to the council's decisions for the maintenance of international peace and security.
In Pakistan, such decisions of the UNSC are implemented through the UNSC Act, 1948.
"Over the years the sanctions regime of the United Nations Security Council [has] evolved, the FO noted, adding that a key measure of the UNSC sanctions regime against suspected terrorist individuals or entities is the "assets freeze" action under which states are required to freeze or seize the assets of designated entities and individuals "as soon as they are designated by the relevant UNSC Sanctions Committee", the FO said.
It said the government has formulated the UNSC (Freezing and Seizure) Order, 2019 in line with the standards of the UNSC and Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
Also on Monday, a high-level meeting was held at the interior ministry to discuss the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP). Representatives of all provincial governments were in attendance.
During the huddle, the interior ministry directed all provincial governments to "speed up" action against banned organisations, a spokesperson for the ministry said.
The developments come a day after reports emerged of a decisive crackdown to be imminently launched by the government against extremist and militant organisations in the country.
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, too, said the government had taken a firm decision that there would be stern action against all militant groups. This, he said, was in accordance with the political consensus contained in the NAP, according to a Dawn report.
The minister had refused to give any timeline for the operation against militant groups like Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), which has been accused of masterminding the Pulwama attack that triggered the latest crisis with India and took the nuclear-armed rivals to the brink of war, and Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) and its charity wing Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation (FIF). Chaudhry said the timeline was something for the security forces to decide.
The National Security Committee had in its February 21 meeting “decided to accelerate action against proscribed organisations” and ordered re-imposition of ban on JuD and FIF. Prime Minister Imran Khan had on that occasion, while emphasising eradication of “militancy and extremism” from society, said the state could not be allowed to “become hostage to extremists”.
While speaking to a group of journalists at a background briefing on Sunday, a source had categorically denied that the action was in response to Indian pressure after the Pulwama incident and said the decision had been taken much before the Feb 14 attack on Indian security forces in occupied Kashmir, although it became public later.
He said the action would help deal with the issues arising out of the FATF listing. Pakistan, despite making significant progress on the initial concerns of FATF, came under renewed pressure at the Paris plenary last month.
“It was decided in NAP in 2014 that there would be action against proscribed groups. That required strategic shift and such changes take time,” the source emphasised in response to a question.
With additional reporting by Sanaullah Khan in Islamabad.