Hafiz Saeed has once again proved to be one of the most important strategic assets for Pakistan. Hafiz led JuD and FIF organizations have actually proved to be a boon for Pakistan at the time of crisis and otherwise also. Whenever, pressure mounts on Pakistan to take visible action against terror organizations, it takes prompt actions against Hafiz Saeed and equally promptly eases them once the pressure subsides. Pakistan seems to have mastered the technique of bans and house arrests for these UN nominated Terrorists like Hafiz Saeed. This time also, banning of his terror organization has won a last-minute reprieve to Pakistan, at the Financial Action Task Force’s meeting in Paris on Tuesday after member states failed to reach consensus on placing the country on the global list of countries that finance terrorism. Just a week ago on last Friday, President Mamnoon Hussain promulgated the ordinance that allowed the government to outlaw all organizations that are declared to be terrorists under UN Security Council resolutions. It is believed that Pakistan’s recent move to ban Jamaat-ud-Dawa and related charities run by Hafiz Saeed like FIF played a crucial role in helping Islamabad’s case to get out of the US-sponsored greylisting.

Pakistan remained on the global terror financing watch list from 2012 to 2015. Had the US move succeeded this time, Pakistan’s economic woes would have multiplied. Not only the cost of doing business would have increased, but the foreign investment could have dried up as well, worsening the country’s macroeconomic position which is already under pressure due to a widening trade deficit and falling foreign exchange reserves.

While delisting the country in February 2015, the FATF had noted that Pakistan made significant progress in improving its anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing regime and also established the legal and regulatory framework to meet its commitments in its action plan regarding the strategic deficiencies that the FATF had identified in June 2010.

Ahead of the Paris meeting, Pakistan called the US move “politically motivated” with an aim to undermine the country’s economic growth. Islamabad was staring at defeat and a major diplomatic setback as countries such as Germany and France also backed the US motion.

Pakistan had sent Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance Dr Miftah Ismail to plead its case to FATF members in Paris, along with other officials including the Financial Monitoring Unit director general, a finance joint secretary, and representatives from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP).

Just a day before his departure for France, the adviser had returned from a weeklong visit of Europe where he had gone to convince FATF member countries about the actions that Islamabad has taken to remain compliant with global anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing regime. His efforts seem to have succeeded as Russia, China and Turkey have not moved along with the US resolution.

The FATF is holding six-day-long meetings to discuss issues ‘to protect the integrity of the global financial system and contribute to safety and security’. The meetings involve more than 700 delegates from the 203 jurisdictions of the FATF Global Network, as well as the UN, IMF, World Bank and other partners.

At present, the 11 jurisdictions are on the high risk and monitoring list of the FATF, which include North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Ethiopia, and Sri Lanka and Pakistan.


22 Feb 18/Thursday.                                                                                        sajiakhan.sk2016@gmail.com