WASHINGTON: Despite its reservations about the fairness of the jury which is to determine Pakistan’s performance against terror financing, the government is committed to implementing its action plan for dealing with this issue, says Islamabad’s Washington envoy Asad Majeed Khan.
In a conversation with a prominent US scholar George Perkovich, recorded at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington on Monday afternoon, Ambassador Khan said the actions that Pakistan had taken so far to eliminate terror financing were “reflective of the political will”.
“We feel that we have done a lot. We are also clear and determined to do more,” said the envoy while responding to a question about a meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) held in Orlando last week, which asked Pakistan to implement its own action plan for eliminating terror financing by October. Failing to do so could put Pakistan on a blacklist of violators and bring strict economic sanctions too.
“But we would not want the jury to be rigged. And there are already predetermined positions. Be it the statements issued by the Indian minister for finance or by their other senior leaders, publicly calling for the blacklisting of Pakistan,” said the ambassador while explaining why Islamabad thought the jury that was hearing its case was not fair.
“Ironically, India is also the co-chair of (FATF’s) Asia Pacific Group, So you put yourself in our position and ask us what would our confidence level be in terms of the fairness of that jury which is sitting in judgement on our performance,” Mr Khan said.
The ambassador, however, assured the international community that its concerns about the fairness of the jury would not prevent Pakistan from implementing the action plan, as agreed with the FATF. “We are still taking it very, very seriously and we are still taking it to the logical conclusion,” he said.
Of the FATF countries who met in Orlando, three — China, Turkey and Malaysia — opposed putting Pakistan on the blacklist, thwarting an Indian move to use the forum for browbeating Islamabad.
Ambassador Khan recalled that Pakistan had “willingly and voluntarily” signed on to the FATF process and had already implemented some key measures of the 20-point action plan. The measures include strict actions against extremist groups, non-state actors and anyone who was likely to abuse Pakistan’s space, facilities or territory against anyone, he added.
“It is a tough set of conditions with a rather short timeline. But the actions that we are taking, that’s one part. I can say that we have covered a lot of ground,” the ambassador said.
“Over the last few months, we have actually seized assets of around 700 entities. We have taken over the facilities run by some of those proscribed entities. We have proscribed 11 new entities. The terrorist financing cases have gone up by almost 95 per cent. There’s 175pc increase in arrests linked to that. There is also almost 82pc rise in conviction rates.”
Mr Khan said Pakistan was also putting in place the infrastructure and legal frameworks required to deal with this problem and it also had a clear “determination to see it through in terms of vigorously implementing” these measures.
He said through this forum, he would like to share a broad message with the international community: “There is a clear recognition (in Pakistan) that without a peace within and peace without, the government will not be able to implement and execute its development agenda.”
The measures that Pakistan was taking in collaboration with FATF were part of a wider effort for bringing economic prosperity and stability to the country.
“We are not making it because we are obligated to do it under FATF. We are doing it because it is part of our national action plan,” he said.
The ambassador pointed out that most of the media reports questioning Pakistan’s sincerity in enforcing its commitment originated in India. “And that’s where we need to be careful. We should not let any one country pursue its own political agenda towards Pakistan through international institutions and channels,” he said.
Published in Dawn, June 26th, 2019