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Editorial

February 15, 2018

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Terror ban

Terror ban

After months of promising to take action against organisations like the Jamaat-ud-Dawah which have been designated as terror groups by the US, the government finally sprang into action on Monday. A presidential ordinance was promulgated imposing bans on all groups that have banned by the UN Security Council. Along with the Jamaat-ud-Dawah, the ban will extend to the JuD’s charity wing Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation and the Al Rashid Trust which now operates under the Al-Akhtar moniker. It would have been better if the ban had been passed through an act of parliament rather than a presidential ordinance but the move was likely dictated by the US-led proposal to have Pakistan placed on a watch list of countries that are not compliant with anti-terror financing regulations. The Financial Action Task Force will consider taking action at its meeting in Paris next week and we will be hoping that the ordinance convinces the US and its allies to withdraw the motion. Even if we are successful in doing so, the US threat should come as a wake-up call. Anti-terror financing regulations require countries to crack down on money laundering, something Pakistan has been lax in doing. There are estimates that money laundering in Pakistan is a $10 billion business, some portion of which is terror-related. The country has previously been placed on the watch list, which affected our ability to bank globally, and cannot afford to face restrictions again.

Important though it is to appease the US before the FATF meeting, Pakistan’s primary responsibility is to itself and its people. Action against all militant groups without discrimination should not need prodding from outside. In the past, we have too often looked benignly on certain suspect groups. Those same groups end up turning their guns on us. For the presidential ordinance to have any effect, it will need to be backed up by enforcement. Our old tendency of banning groups but then doing nothing when they emerge under a new name has to be abandoned. The Securities and Exchange Commission had already banned these groups from collecting donations but that is only the start of a long process. Their offices need to be shut and, as with other militant groups, their members prevented from holding public rallies and appearing on television. Little aptitude has been shown for doing this before. The fact is that one ordinance alone will not convince anyone that the state has changed a lifetime of bad habits.

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