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FATF's reminder to Pakistan: ‘Monitoring actions to counter terror financing’

By, New Delhi
Feb 25, 2023 05:41 AM IST

Recent videos that emerged online showed Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin along with armed bodyguards as he led funeral prayers for Bashir Ahmad Peer, a Hizbul Mujahideen commander shot dead by unidentified assailants in Rawalpindi.

The Asian affiliate of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) continues to monitor Pakistan’s actions to strengthen its system to counter terror financing and it is important for the country to deliver on all its commitments, the head of the multilateral watchdog said on Friday.

Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.(AFP file)

FATF president T Raja Kumar of Singapore made the remarks at a news conference following the conclusion of a plenary meeting in Paris when he was asked whether Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin’s activities in Rawalpindi went against Pakistan’s commitments to crack down on terrorism.

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“I will not speculate on specific media reports. But I think what is important is to emphasise that there continues to be monitoring of Pakistan's progress [in efforts to counter terror financing] by the Asia Pacific Group,” Kumar said, referring to reports that Salahuddin had been spotted roaming freely on the streets of Rawalpindi.

The Asia Pacific Group (APG) is a FATF-style regional body with 41 member countries that monitors money laundering and terror financing.

Financial Action Task Force had removed Pakistan from its “grey list” in October last year after the country largely implemented two action plans on anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorism financing (CFT). The watchdog had placed Pakistan in the list of countries under enhanced monitoring of all financial transactions in 2018.

While removing it from the grey list, FATF had said Pakistan will have to continue its work to further improve systems to combat terror financing and money laundering.

Kumar told the news conference that Pakistan had been given two action plans with 34 action items. “There was an on-site visit by the FATF to Pakistan, which confirmed that Pakistan has strengthened its AML and CFT systems,” he said.

Pakistan had taken action to complete the 34 action items “either totally or substantially”, based on the high-level political commitment to “basically continue and sustain these further changes to its AML system to strengthen it”, he said.

“Now, what is important to stress is that while Pakistan has been taken off the grey list, Pakistan continues to...be supervised by the Asia Pacific Group. So, I would urge Pakistan to continue to address its remaining action plan items to fully complete them, as well as to make sure that it sustains its commitment and continues to enhance its AML/CFT systems,” Kumar added.

Recent videos that emerged online showed Salahuddin along with armed bodyguards as he led funeral prayers for Bashir Ahmad Peer, a Hizbul Mujahideen commander shot dead by unidentified assailants in Rawalpindi. The videos also showed Salahuddin pledging to destroy India while a crowd cheered.

The FATF plenary meeting also decided to suspend the membership of Russia, saying the country's “continuing and intensifying war of aggression against Ukraine runs counter to FATF’s principles of promoting security, safety and the integrity of the global financial system and the commitment to international cooperation and mutual respect”.

The watchdog also added South Africa and Nigeria to its grey list.

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