India wants FATF to review Pak action against Azhar

JeM chief Masood Azhar. (AFP File Photo)

India is set to nudge the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to seek a report from Pakistan next month on the actions it would have taken by then to freeze the assets and financial resources of terrorist leader Masood Azhar.

A day after the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) sanctioned Azhar, Imran Khan's government in Islamabad issued notification to start implementation of the curbs — asset freeze, travel ban and arms embargo — on the 51-year-old leader of the terrorist organisation who lives at Bahawalpur in Pakistan. New Delhi, however, is keen to get Pakistan government's actions on the Jaish-e-Mohammed leader verified by the FATF — an intergovernmental organisation that coordinates global efforts to combat money-laundering and terror financing.

The FATF is likely to hold its plenary in Florida from June 16 to 21. India is keen to use the opportunity and will work with the United States, France, the United Kingdom and others to prod the multilateral organisation into demanding a full briefing from Pakistan on the measures it would have taken by then to implement the UNSC sanctions on Azhar.

The FATF had last year put Pakistan on its 'Grey List' — officially a list of the "jurisdictions with strategic deficiencies in its legal regime to check money-laundering and terrorist financing".

New Delhi indicated that it would keep stepping up pressure on Islamabad to make it completely turn off the flow of funds to terrorist organisations operating in Pakistan or territories under its control.

"The FATF has already placed Pakistan on its grey list. India will place before the FATF whatever information we have about lack of action by Pakistan government to stop flow of funds to terrorists," Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said. "We will definitely want that the consequences of downgrading (of Pakistan) by FATF is enforced (on Pakistan)."

New Delhi on Wednesday had a major diplomatic success at the United Nations as China stood aside and let the Security Council impose sanctions on the JeM chief, who is based in Pakistan and orchestrated several terror attacks in India.

China had earlier blocked attempts by India and other nations to get the UNSC sanction Azhar and other terrorist leaders based in Pakistan.

Ahmed Farooq, director general (counter-terrorism), Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan government, on Thursday issued an order for implementation of the UNSC sanction on Azhar — including freezing of all his assets like land and real estates, bank accounts and other financial resources. He also ordered the implementation of travel ban and arms embargo as mandated by the UNSC sanction regime.

The FATF, which had its last plenary in Paris from February 17 to 22, reviewed the progress made by the Imran Khan government in squeezing fund flow to terror organisations, including the JeM and Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT). It noted that Pakistan made "limited progress" on actions it promised to complete by January, including on implementation of UNSC sanctions on terrorists like Azhar and LeT chief Hafiz Saeed as well as the organisations they run. It asked Islamabad to swiftly complete the implementation of its planned actions, particularly the ones which were to be completed by May. It would again review Pakistan's performance in June.

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