As the global terror financing watchdog meets virtually for the second day on Thursday, India hopes that the international body would be able to exert pressure on Pakistan which, it says, has clearly failed to crack down on terror financing and money laundering.
From a 27-point action list handed over by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), India believes that Pakistan has failed at least six conditions including the lack of action against charitable organisations or NPOs (non-profit organisations) connected to terror groups banned by the UN Security Council, and delays in the prosecution of banned individuals and entities like Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed and operations chief Zaki Ur Rehman Lakhvi, as well as Jaish-e- Mohammad chief Masood Azhar.
"Even though Hafiz Saeed was sentenced in February this year to 11 years in prison in a terror-financing case, he is not in jail and others also remain 'untraceable' as far as Pakistan is concerned. Queries have been raised on each of the missing terrorists, but no efforts have been made to trace them by Pakistan," a senior official in the Home Ministry told NDTV.
According to him, Pakistan has also did not report on convictions. "Very few convictions of terror commanders of UN-designated entities affiliated to the Al Qaeda and the Haqqani Network have taken place and this point also goes against them," he added.
Pakistan has also been non-compliant in cracking down on terror financing through narcotics and smuggling of mining products including precious stones. The FATF process has also shown concern about 4,000 names that were on Pakistan's Schedule-IV list under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) up to January 2020 and went missing in Sept 2020. "Pakistan needs to explain how all this happened," a senior bureaucrat of the ministry said.
Combating terror financing has been a priority for FATF since 2001. FATF plays a key role in global efforts to fight terror financing by setting global standards, assisting countries to implement financial provisions of the United Nations Security Council resolutions on terror, and evaluating their ability to prevent, detect, investigate and prosecute the financing of terrorism.
FATF carries out assessments throughout the year of countries on the grey list but this work has been curtailed in 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic. Much of its work in Pakistan has been focused on getting the government to introduce laws to enforce UN sanctions, improve coordination between different government organisations and law enforcement agencies, and the prosecution of terrorists involved in fund-raising.
"First day discussions were held on governance issues, but the next two days are crucial for India as operational issues would be discussed. On its last day, the focus would be mostly Pakistan so decision, whether Pakistan would stay in the grey list or not, would be known by Friday," said an official.
Remaining in the grey list has made it increasingly difficult for Pakistan to get financial aid from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the European Union, exacerbating problems for the cash-strapped country.