Pakistan making desperate attempts to misleadterror financing watchdog FATF as Oct deadline nears
Pakistan seems to be racing against time as the October deadline set by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to clean up its records on terror financing approaches, though Islamabad seems to be still trying to shield JuD chief and Lashkar-e-Taiba patron Hafiz Saeed.
Security experts told The Week that Islamabad is trying to mislead the global anti-terror financing watchdog to avoid being blacklisted as well as to save the top terror perpetrators roaming freely on their soil.
In a recent judgement, an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan convicted three terrorists associated with LeT, JuD and its affiliate Al Hamad Trust on charges of using their properties for terrorism and terror financing, ostensibly to project a crackdown on the outfit, reported the news magazine.
Malik Zafar Iqbal, president of the proscribed Al Hamad Trust; Hafiz Abdul Salim, secretary of the Al Hamad Trust and Hafiz Abdul Rahman Makki, vice president of Al Hamad Trust, were convicted by the Lahore court on August 28, The Week reported.
However, the court awarded a total of six years imprisonment to Iqbal and Salim with a fine of Pakistani rupees one lakh each while Makki was let off with one-and-a-half-year in jail and a fine of Pakistani rupees 20,000.
Makki is the brother-in-law of LeT chief Hafiz Saeed. He also heads the political and international affairs wing of the JuD, reported the news magazine.
Top security sources told The Week that the court let him off with a minor punishment saying that since he is the vice president of the trust, he cannot take important decisions of the organisation.
"The fact is that since Makki is related to Saeed and is an important functionary of the JuD, which is the parent organisation of Lashkar, he has been shielded. The token measures have been taken to show the FATF that Islamabad is addressing the 27 action plan items it was supposed to complete to avoid being blacklisted," said an official to the news magazine.
Apart from him, there are other people also who are given special treatment by Pakistan.
Besides Makki, Sajid Mir, one of the chief perpetrators of 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, is still roaming freely despite mounting evidence of his involvement in the terror strike. India and the United States have been demanding his conviction and extradition, reports The Week.
Similarly, another mastermind of Mumbai attacks, Zaki ur Rehman Lakhvi, has been released from jail more than half a decade ago and is learnt to be staying at an ISI guesthouse.
Lakhvi's son-in-law Yusuf Muzammil, another terrorist involved in Mumbai attacks, is also operating from the ISI-controlled facility. More importantly, Hafiz Saeed, despite being convicted and sentenced to 11 years imprisonment, is believed to be staying at an ISI safe house, the news magazine reported.
Sources told The Week contrary to steps being displayed by Pakistan to showcase its action against some terror groups, the terror outfits like Lashkar are expanding their activities in new theatres and rapidly promoting their affiliate organisations.
FATF and Pakistan:
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog.
The inter-governmental body sets international standards that aim to prevent these illegal activities and the harm they cause to society, read the official website.
As a policy-making body, the FATF works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in these areas.
FATF placed Pakistan in the grey list in June 2018 and asked for compliance of 27 action plans to come out from the scrutiny list until Sept 2019.
Pakistan has so far been given three times extension of three months, every time to comply with 27 action points, The News International reported.
Out of 27 points, the FATF had declared Pakistan fully compliant on 14 points and now there is the deadline of October 2020 for complying with the remaining 13 points, reported the Pakistani newspaper.