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National

February 15, 2018

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Punjab govt takes over JuD, FIF seminaries, health facilities in Rawalpindi

Punjab govt takes over JuD, FIF seminaries, health facilities in Rawalpindi

ISLAMABAD: Ahead of the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) key meeting in Paris next week, Pakistan put bar on all operations of the Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) and the Falah-e-Insaniat (FIF) across the country. However, organisations were not put in schedule I of the Anti-Terror law which defines placement of any organisation on the banned list.

Development came after the United States of America (USA) and a few European countries plan to table a motion with FATF, seeking Pakistan’s placement on a watchlist of countries considered non-compliant with global anti-terror financing measures.

“The federal government [of Pakistan] is pleased to direct that requisite actions with regard to freezing and taking over of assets (movable, immovable and human resource) associated with JuD and FIF shall be taken in pursuance of Ordinance No-II of 2018,” read an official notification issued by Ministry of Interior on February 10.

Pakistan feared that it might be put on the watchdog’s international money-laundering and terror-financing ‘grey list’ of FATF following some possible sanctions where it could face a major irritant in its dealing with the international financial sector. FATF’s meeting is scheduled to take place in Paris from February 18 to 23.

President Mamnoon Hussain, on February 9, signed an important ordinance with key amendments to Sections 11B (a) and 11EE (aa) of Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 aiming at reigning in individuals and organisations that have been banned by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Under this new ordinance, which was issued for 120 days as Parliament was not in session, Ministry of Interior slapped ban on operations of three organisations — JuD, FIF and Jundullah.

With new addition in section 11B of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 via its Ordinance No II of 2018 reads: 'the federal government may, by order published in the official Gazette, list an organisation as a proscribed organisation in the first schedule on an ex-parte basis, if there are reasonable grounds to believe that it- (a) concerned in terrorism, or [additional words] listed under the United Nations Security Council Act (XIV) 1948, or.” Section 11EE reads “'the federal government, may, by order published in the official Gazette, list a person as a proscribed person in the fourth schedule on an ex-parte basis, if there are reasonable grounds in believe that such person is-a) concerned in terrorism or [additional words] listed under the United Nations Security Council Act (XIV) 1948, or.” The government through Parliament has to give this ordinance a legal cover otherwise it would lapse until President of Pakistan extends it for 120 more days.

A major impact of the new ordinance would be the proscription of Hafiz Muhammad Saeed-backed JuD and FIF along with the UN listed outfits of Al-Akhtar Trust and Al-Rashid Trust, etc. Officials privy to the latest development, told Geo News that Punjab government has moved against JuD and FIF by taking over its seminaries and health facilities in Rawalpindi. The provincial government has also barred anyone from donating to JuD and FIF, said one of the officials. Sindh government, however, showed its inability to take over the humanitarian operations across the province operated by FIF, he added. The Balochistan government has stated there is no presence of JuD and FIF in the province and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government is yet to send its reply on the matter, he further said.

Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Miftah Ismail, on this major development, told international media that Pakistan was trying to convince Germany, France, USA and UK to withdraw its plan of moving motion seeking inclusion of Pakistan to the grey-list. "We are also quite hopeful that even if the USA did not withdraw the nomination that we will prevail and not be put on the watchlist," he said.

Miftah Ismail said that FATF would not downgrade Pakistan’s ranking.

“We expect that the world will not fall in line with Indian wish list,” Miftah Ismail told The News from Brussels on telephone.

Miftah Ismail said that he had held meeting Germany’s relevant quarters and apprised them of the steps taken by Pakistan to comply with UN Resolutions and FATF requirements.

However, another top official said that United Nations (UN) team had visited Pakistan in January 2018 in order to evaluate Islamabad’s performance for complying with UN Resolutions of 1267 for curbing terror financing. Now the UN team will report back to its headquarters and satisfactory report is must for avoiding any movement towards slapping any kind of sanctions in future.

“It’s very serious issue and any negative report can lead towards initiation of process of imposing sanctions,” said the official.

“If Pakistan was downgraded and put into grey list, it will have negative repercussion on the country’s credit ratings. Pakistan’s credit rating may be downgraded if FATF downgraded its ranking for Islamabad,” said the official.

Any downgrading move by the credit rating agencies, the official said, could cause loss to the country’s plan for launching another Eurobond anytime within the current fiscal year, said the official.

The FATF removed Pakistan from its grey list owing to its improvement in combating the twin menaces of money laundering and terrorist financing. The task force, an international body sets standards for Anti-Money Laundering/Combating Financing for Terrorism (AML/CFT), placed Pakistan on its grey list in February 2012 on a plea that the country was not fully compliant with the standards for effectively combating the twin menaces.

But after two years, FATF removed Pakistan from its list in 2015 after the latter while working with the Asia Pacific Group addressed the full range of AML/CFT issues identified in its mutual evaluation report, in particular, fully implementing UNSC Resolution 1267.

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