Saturday, July 31, 2021

India Proposes ‘Action Plan’ Against Pak-Based Terror Outfits While Pakistan Remains On FATF ‘Grey List’

India’s National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval has proposed an action plan against Pakistan-based terror outfits, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), at a multilateral forum, according to reports.

This comes at a time when money laundering and terror financing watchdog FATF decides to retain Pakistan on its ‘Grey List’. 

At the end of its plenary meeting on June 25, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) asked Islamabad to take action against UN-designated terrorists, such as LeT chief Hafiz Saeed and Maulana Masood Azhar of the JeM.

The LeT and the JeM had launched major terror attacks on Indian soil including the 2008 Mumbai carnage and the 2019 Pulwama suicide bombing.

Doval suggested the plan at the meetings of NSAs of the member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) at Dushanbe, Tajikistan, reported The Indian Express.

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India’s NSA Ajit Doval (second from left) at the SCO meeting venue in Tajikistan. (via Twitter)

He proposed the adoption of international standards including “an MoU between SCO and the FATF”. With his Pakistani counterpart, Moeed Yusuf in attendance, Doval turned up the heat on Islamabad stating that perpetrators of terror should be brought to justice.

India has for years urged Pakistan to take action on terror groups and individuals responsible for the ghastly attacks on Indian soil.

New Delhi has also alleged a lack of action by Pakistan against most-wanted terrorists Hafiz Saeed and Masood Azhar. At the SCO meeting, Doval stressed the urgent “need for full implementation of UN resolutions and targeted sanctions against UN-designated terrorist individuals and entities”.

FATF Review Meet

At the end of a five-day plenary meeting on June 25, the Paris-based FATF retained Pakistan on the “increased monitoring list”, saying Islamabad should continue to work to address its “strategically-important deficiencies”.

According to FATF’s ‘Jurisdictions under Increased Monitoring – June 2021’, “The FATF recognizes Pakistan’s progress and efforts to address these CFT (Combating the Financing of Terrorism) action plan items and notes that since February 2021, Pakistan has made progress to complete two of the three remaining action items on demonstrating that effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions are imposed for TF (terror financing) convictions and that Pakistan’s targeted financial sanctions regime was being used effectively to targeted terrorist assets. Pakistan has now completed 26 of the 27 action items in its 2018 action plan,

The FATF encourages Pakistan to continue to make progress to address as soon as possible the one remaining CFT-related item by demonstrating that TF investigations and prosecutions target senior leaders and commanders of UN-designated terrorist groups”.

It said that “Pakistan should continue to work to address its strategically important AML/CFT deficiencies,” and recommended:

(1) Enhance international cooperation by amending the MLA law;

(2) Demonstrate that assistance is being sought from foreign countries in implementing UNSCR 1373 designations;

(3) Supervisors should conduct both on-site and off-site supervision commensurate with specific risks associated with DNFBPs, including applying appropriate sanctions where necessary;

(4) Proportionate and dissuasive sanctions should be applied consistently to all legal persons and legal arrangements for non-compliance with beneficial ownership requirements;

(5) An increase in ML investigations and prosecutions and that proceeds of crime continue to be restrained and confiscated in line with Pakistan’s risk profile, including working with foreign counterparts to trace, freeze, and confiscate assets;

(6) Monitor DNFBPs (Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions)  for compliance with proliferation financing requirements and that sanctions are being imposed for non-compliance.

LeT & 2008 Mumbai Attacks

While both India and Pakistan have agreed to cooperate in a joint fight against “international terrorism, extremism, separatism and religious fanaticism” within the SCO, cross-border terror remains a point of friction between the two countries.

India’s financial capital, Mumbai was rattled by a string of terror attacks in November 2008. A total of 175 people including nine out of 10 Pakistani attackers were killed. India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) filed chargesheets naming several suspects including LeT chief Hafiz Saeed.

The iconic Taj Hotel in Mumbai was one of the targets of the Pakistan-based terrorists in November 2008.

Over the years, India shared a series of dossiers pertaining to its investigations into 26/11 Mumbai attacks with Islamabad. These dossiers comprised evidence in the form of statements of key witnesses, information on SIM cards, GPS coordinates, DNA reports of the terrorists, and the deposition of the lone captured terrorist, Ajamal Kasab, who was executed following a death sentence awarded by an Indian court.

India has alleged Pakistan’s lack of action on the dossiers submitted. But in 2020, based on its own investigations, Pakistan came up with a list of terrorists. However, it omitted the names of the mastermind and key conspirators.

The Ministry of External Affairs then stated, “It is a fact that the 26/11 attack was planned, executed and launched from Pakistan’s territory. The list makes it clear that Pakistan possesses all the necessary information and evidence on the conspirators and facilitators of the Mumbai terror attacks based in Pakistan”.

Terro Attacks Linked To JeM

On January 2, 2016, heavily armed terrorists attacked the Pathankot Air Force Station in the northern Indian state of Punjab. A Kashmir-based militant group, the United Jihad Council, intially claimed responsibility, a claim that was rejected by Indian authorities on the grounds that the outfit was not known to carry out attacks outside Kashmir. 

India blamed the Pakistan-based JeM for the attack. The next day, India’s consulate at Mazar-e-Sharif in Afghanistan came under attack, followed by an explosion at another mission in Jalalabad.

On September 18, 2016, suspected JeM terrorists launched a suicide attack at an army camp in Jammu and Kashmir’s Uri, killing 19 Indian soldiers. India retaliated by launching a “surgical strike” at terror launchpads inside Pakistan-administered Kashmir. While India claimed to have inflicted “significant casualties”, Pakistan dismissed the claim, calling it a border skirmish between their troops.

However, all hell broke loose when a suicide terror attack on a convoy of Indian security forces claimed the lives of 40 troopers in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama in February 2019. Within a few days, Indian Air Force jets dropped bombs inside Pakistani terrorists targeting terrorist camps. The incident had brought the two nuclear-armed neighbors to the brink of a full-scale military conflict. 

In 2020, India’s NIA filed a chargesheet against JeM chief Masood Azhar, stating that the “attack planned by the JeM and ‘Pakistani establishment’ had been in the making since 2016”. 

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