US slaps sanctions on 7 Pak entities for ‘acting against its national security’
The US has slapped sanctions on seven Pakistani entities linked to the country’s missile programme for “acting contrary” to American national security, reflecting a downturn in ties between the two countries.
The entities include Islamabad-based National Engineering and Scientific Commission (NESCOM), which administers several defence development programmes, and three of its subsidiaries, Air Weapons Complex (AWC), Maritime Technology Complex (MTC) and New Auto Engineering (NAE).
An official notification issued by the US department of commerce said there was “reasonable cause to believe, based on specific and articulable facts,” that these entities “have been involved in actions contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States”.
There was no official word from Pakistan on the development. It has in the past denied wrongdoing when similar sanctions were imposed by the US on its nuclear and defence programmes.
The Pakistani organisations were added to the US Entity List, identifies entities and individuals “reasonably believed to be involved, or to pose a significant risk of being or becoming involved, in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests” of the US.
The sanctioned entities also are subject to the Export Administration Regulations, which impose “additional license requirements on, and limits the availability, of most license exceptions for exports”.
Besides NESCOM, the other sanctioned entities are Air Weapons Complex (AWC) at Wah Cantonment, Maritime Technology Complex (MTC) of Karachi, New Auto Engineering (NAE) of Rawalpindi, Ahad International of Lahore, Engineering Solutions Pvt Ltd of Islamabad and Universal Tooling Services with offices in Rawalpindi, Lahore and Taxila.
The notification, which was dated December 15, did not give specifics about the activities of the Pakistani entities that had resulted in the sanctions.
Project Alpha – a group of experts at the Centre for Science and Security Studies at King’s College, London, that tracks Pakistan’s nuclear and defence programmes – said the scrutiny of Islamabad’s activities was prompted by its report in November that focussed on Pakistan’s continued use of front companies and other deceptive methods to obtain dual-use goods.
It said the report had “identified most of the entities that were added to the US list on the 15th December as well as up to a dozen more front companies procuring illicit goods on behalf of Pakistan, including front companies thought to act on behalf of the newly designated entities”.
“The timing of the move is noteworthy. With little over a month to go until the inauguration of President Trump, it is possible that the Obama administration acted to list these entities foreseeing a window in which the move would not necessarily hamper US diplomatic ties with Pakistan,” Project Alpha said on its website.
“While there are signs that Pakistan is discontent with the US action, the Pakistani government will wish to start fresh with the Trump administration regardless,” it added.