The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global anti-terrorist financing and anti-money laundering watchdog, during its plenary session in October 2021 reviewed the progress Pakistan had made on compliance with its standards and decided to retain it on the Grey List. Pakistan had then claimed that Jaish-e-Muhammad Chief Maulana Masood Azhar (MMA) was untraceable and a proclaimed offender. Besides, it took cosmetic measure of putting Jamaat-ud-Dawah Chief Hafiz Saeed under house arrest. Nevertheless, it could not avoid from being placed in the Grey List.
Though the FATF has time and again urged Pakistan to address the issue of terrorist financing as soon as possible by demonstrating that the investigations and prosecutions it is undertaking, target senior leaders and commanders of the UN designated terrorist groups, Pakistan is far from following the FATF’s instructions in this regard. The UN designated groups e.g. Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) and Jamaat- ud-Dawah (JuD) involved in radicalisation and terrorism are roaming around freely in the country. These groups remain undeterred in their pursuit of spreading hatred in the name of religion and using terrorism as a tool to achieve their nefarious designs. The unhindered meetings, conferences and social media campaigns conducted by the leaders of these groups clearly indicate the tacit support they enjoy from Pakistan authorities.
During September- December 2021, JeM Chief Maulana Masood Azhar regularly published articles calling for jihad. In his write-up in September 2021, he called for celebrating the Islamic victory in Afghanistan On September 10, 2021, a conference “Salam Shuhada-e-Islam” was organized during which claims were made to launch fidayeen attacks in India through its cadres who had already reached Line of Control (LoC). The banners were put up urging people to donate for militants. JeM also announced its training calendar of 2022 for basic and advance courses to be conducted at Karachi and Bahawalpur Madrassas. These courses are perhaps nothing but terror training modules.
Similarly, another UN designated terrorist organization in Pakistan, Jamaat-ud- Dawah (JuD) and its affiliates conducted their activities freely, especially, training campaigns aimed at Islamic radicalisation. JuD leaders sought donations in the name of building Jamia Masjid and Madrassa Abdullah Bin Masood. In fact the donations sought in the name of building mosques and madarassas by these UN-listed organisations are the ploys to mobilise funds to further channelize them for the training and recruitment of militants.
Pakistan has been facing the FATF’s scrutiny since 2018 for its inability to curb the terrorist financing and money laundering activities being undertaken on its soil. It has had several reviews since 2018, conducted every four months, to assess its progress along the action plan created by the FATF for the country to implement corrective measures. But Islamabad does not seem to learn a lesson that its support to these terrorist organizations has come at a huge cost for the country’s economy.
A paper, ‘Bearing the cost of global politics – the impact of FATF grey-listing on Pakistan’s economy’, published by an Islamabad-based think-tank, Tabadlab, shows that that Pakistan’s grey-listing by the FATF from 2008 to 2019 may have resulted in a cumulative GDP loss of $38 billion. The FATF’s next plenary is from February 21 to March 04 in Paris. For the FATF, it must hold Pakistan accountable as to how these terror organizations continue to operate freely in the country. The way these UN designated terror organisations continue to operate and raise fund in Pakistan shows Pakistan’s indifference to the guidelines of the FATF. Its continuous failure to comply with the FATF standards deems it fit to be placed on the Black List.