Pakistani PM Imran Khan is holding conclusive talks with opposition parties in a bid to bring them on the same page regarding proposed legislation, as the country’s tag of being blacklisted under the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) looms ever closer, with a crucial meeting of the Asia Pacific Joint Group of the global terror-financing watchdogs, just days away.
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Earlier, PM Imran Khan’s attempts at halting money laundering and terror financing under the instructions of the FATF were dampened by opposition parties who decided to vote down the Anti-Money Laundering (Second Amendment) Bill and the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Waqf Properties Bill, tabled by Khan’s party Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI).
The move was later labeled by Khan as a way for opposition leaders to save their illegal money, and now Khan has decided to reintegrate efforts to bring the opposition parties in sync with the ruling one, so as to make a last-ditch attempt to stop Pakistan from being blacklisted and bring it out of the grey-list as well.
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Pakistan has been on the grey-list of the terror financing watchdog since June 2018, joining the likes of Iran and North Korea, for harboring terror outfits and the perceived lack of safeguards against money laundering in the banking and financial sectors.
And, till date, the FATF has been constantly monitoring the measures taken by Islamabad to curb terrorism and funding to militant groups operating within the set boundaries.
INDIA’S ROLE IN PAKISTAN BEING BLACKLISTED
One of the key forces behind Pakistan’s potential blacklisting has been India, who is gearing up efforts with the aim of increasing scrutiny into Pakistan’s involvement in terror funding and its inaction when the task force meets in October for its next plenary session.
India, who is looking to expose Pakistan and its army for continuing to shelter and facilitate terrorist groups like the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) have armed themselves with detailed evidence linking Pakistan’s major hand in the 2019 Pulwama terror attack, Mumbai’s 26/11 militant attack and for the murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) recently claimed that JeM had planned the Pulwama terror attack under the surveillance of FATF, with the account of JeM mastermind Umar Farooq transferred with smaller amounts of cash in order to evade detection by the watchdog.
“Money was transferred in five different installments from Jaish handlers to Farooq’s accounts. The entire transaction didn’t happen at a go, like earlier.” a senior officer supervising the NIA probe told CNN-News18.
WHAT’S IN IT FOR INDIA?
If the verdict is ruled in India’s favor and Pakistan gets blacklisted, Islamabad is likely to face an international boycott, which will lead not only lead to economic isolation but also weaken its stance on international matters, a plus for India, which has faced a backlash from Islamabad on its decision to remove Jammu and Kashmir’ special status.
Moreover, the verdict will also lead to a pulling out of major international financial institutions from the country and serious economic sanctions from international institutions like IMF, World Bank and Asian Development Bank, which will be a major blow for Pakistan who has been highly dependent on international funding.
It would be a major boost for New Delhi to isolate Pakistan, which believes the move will limit funding to militant groups who continue to infiltrate and plan terror attacks within India’s boundaries.
So far, Pakistan with the aid of countries like China, Turkey and Malaysia, has been able to stay off the blacklist bracket and it will again look at its ‘Iron Brother’ China to come to its rescue.
Indian Strategic Analyst, Maroof Raza, while writing for Tribune India, said that while Pakistan will look to China for help, PM Imran Khan should be prepared that China will look to use Pakistan for operations against India and the US.
“Pakistan’s last resort is China, as it’s left with few friends in Gulf countries who will bankroll a nation that only promises trouble. China, however, has plans for Pakistan to fulfill its strategic agenda.
For one, in its current standoff on the LAC, the use of Pakistan to put military pressure on India from the ‘LoC to the LAC’ as the nation was reminded recently, making India the only country in the world with two nuclear-armed and hostile neighbors.
The other is to buy out as much of Pakistan as it is willing to give, for China’s BRI. And finally, to use Pakistan to create a counter-US and a counter-Gulf ‘axis’ with Iran and Turkey. And for that, Pakistan could be willing to pay a price.” said Raza.
According to a report by the BBC, Pakistan will also ask the United States for help as Islamabad played a key role in bringing the Afghan Taliban to the negotiating table with Washington, as President Donald Trump plans to completely withdraw US troops from Afghanistan.
Penned By Mansijj Asthana.Views Personal