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    Tuesday, 27 February 2018

    Financial Action Task Force( FATF )move ‘unjust’, Trump aide Lisa Curtis told

    Just days after the United States successfully managed to win the support of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) against Pakistan, a senior aide of the Trump Administration travelled to Islamabad on Monday for crucial talks.

    Lisa Curtis, the senior director for South Asia and Central Asia at the National Security Council of the US met Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua at the foreign office. The visit remained low key as the foreign office spokesperson simply issued a tweet saying that Curtis met the foreign secretary.
    Even the usual statement suggesting that the two sides discussed issues of mutual interests and bilateral ties was missing. This all suggested a new low in ties between the two countries and frustration on part of Pakistan for being placed on the global terror financing watch-list after the US moved a motion with the FATF.
    Little details were available as to what exactly had transpired during the discussions but some sources suggested the foreign secretary did raise the FATF issue and insisted that US move was ‘unjust’.
    The inclusion of Pakistan in the ‘grey-list’ is seen as part of broader US strategy to pressurize Islamabad to do more in the fight against certain militant groups.
    Discussions were candid and frank as Curtis – prior to joining the Trump administration – has authored a policy paper along with former ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani suggesting a new approach towards Pakistan.
    The new approach envisaged tough measures including seeking Pakistan’s international isolation if it continued to use militant groups as proxies to advance its strategic objectives.
    The recent US move at the FATF appeared to be in line with that policy as Pakistan was even abandoned by its closest allies – China and Saudi Arabia.
    A senior official while requesting anonymity confirmed that Pakistan would indeed be placed on ‘grey list’ from June. The challenge now is to avoid getting blacklisted, something that will have far more serious repercussions, the official admitted.
    He said the FATF would now share a plan of action that Pakistan had to implement in order to address what it says ‘strategic deficiencies’ to curb terror financing.
    The official nevertheless insisted that the move was politically motivated and aimed at undermining Pakistan’s economic progress.
    It is believed that FATF wants Pakistan to move decisively against certain groups including Hafiz Saeed’s charities as well as the Haqqani Network.
    Pakistan has already amended the Anti-Terrorism Act allowing authorities greater powers to move against groups that are designated as terrorists by the UN Security Council under its resolution 1267.
    The move that came just days before the FATF meeting in Paris made little impact on the final outcome of intergovernmental body’s meeting that sets global standards against the illicit finance.
    Pakistan felt it was hard done by as the FATF placed it on the ‘grey list’ without the final assessment of a ‘mutual evaluation,’ which was “an unprecedented move,” lamented the official.

    Pakistan will develop a strategy to avoid being put on a global terror financing watchlist, the finance minister said Monday, after China and Saudi Arabia deserted Islamabad over the issue at a recent meeting in Paris.
    Members of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an anti money-laundering watchdog based in the French capital, voted last week to place Pakistan on its grey list of nations which are not doing enough to combat terror financing in June, a diplomatic source said.
    That gives Pakistan three months to make enough changes to avoid being listed, which could hamper some foreign investment and further strain relations with Washington, where officials have put increasing pressure on Pakistan over its alleged support for militant safe havens.
    “We will start meeting on the issue of FATF after March 1 to see what can we do on this and what strategy we can devise,” Finance Minister Rana Afzal Khan said, adding that Pakistan has not yet received a list of actions it needs to implement.
    Observers are doubtful that Pakistan can meet the requirements in time, however.
    The move, which was not announced in FATF’s statement at the close of the six-day meeting, came after members had initially been unable to reach a consensus, with Turkey, China and Saudi Arabia holding out, the diplomatic source said.
    That saw Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif confidently tweet last week that Pakistan had avoided being grey-listed.But amid a flurry of diplomatic activity a second vote was held, with the US convincing Riyadh to change its vote and Beijing staying silent, the source said.

    The decision is a diplomatic blow to Islamabad’s relationship with its “all-weather” friend China, which has invested billions in the country’s infrastructure, and Saudi Arabia, to which Pakistan sent some 1,000 troops earlier this month.
    “It shows that the people who are concerned about terror financing are pretty broad,” the diplomatic source said.
    Pakistan was previously on the list from 2012 until 2015.
    Two diplomatic sources in Islamabad said it was targeted again this year over its lack of action against Hafiz Saeed, the alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, and his charity Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD).
    This month Pakistan began seizing JuD assets and quietly amended its anti-terror laws to bring them in line with the UN, a move observers said was in anticipation of the FATF decision.
    Rumours of the move have rattled officials and businesses across Pakistan. But there should be “no major impact” to the economy, said Yaseen Anwar, the former central bank governor who help get the country off the list three years ago.
    FATF is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 to help combat money-laundering and financing for militants.
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