New Delhi: India is planning to make a stronger case at the Financial Action TaskForce (FATF), to get Pakistan blacklisted for terror financing.
ThePrint has learnt that India will base its case around recent terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir, particularly the killing of five security personnel in Handwara last week and the Keran operation before that, to showcase how Pakistan has been supporting terror even as countries are focussing on fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.
While the Paris-based financial watchdog is believed to have given more time to Pakistan to comply with its 27-point action plan, New Delhi has decided to ramp up global pressure against Islamabad, which it believes “is running the business of terror as usual when the world is busy fighting the pandemic”, a top diplomatic source told ThePrint.
The FATF had given Pakistan the 27-point action plan at its plenary in February, failing which it would get ‘blacklisted’, instead of its current place on the ‘grey list’. The FATF had also said if it finds that Pakistan has worked on all parameters, it may even bring the country out of the ‘grey list’.
New terror outfits
India is likely to highlight the emergence of some new terror outfits in Jammu and Kashmir, like ‘The Resistance Front’ (TRF), which the government believes is an offshoot of Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), another source said.
Terror outfits such as the LeT, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and the Hizbul Mujahideen, which have been active in India, all fall under the FATF scanner.
Indian security officials have also noted reports of the emergence of another terror outfit, Tehreek-i-Milat-i-Islami (TMI), and the country is planning to highlight this too to the FATF, as it believes “these outfits are all getting support from across the border”, according to the second source, who refused to be identified.
Plenary delayed but evaluation to go ahead
The FATF’s June plenary has been postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a final call on whether or not to blacklist Pakistan will only be taken in its October plenary, according to diplomatic sources.
However, an evaluation of Pakistan’s progress on the 27-point action plan will be carried out in Beijing on 21-26 June. This will be done by the joint working group meetings of the FATF and Eurasian Group (EAG), sources said.
This group is expected to take into account the report given to it by the Asia Pacific Group, of which India is a member. The final findings from Beijing will feed into the October plenary, which will then do its own evaluation.
Won’t be easy for Pakistan
Pakistan has been on the terror-financing ‘grey list’ since June 2018, and wants to come out of it since it entails immense scrutiny by most countries that comprise the 39-member FATF, which impacts foreign capital inflow into the country.
“This time it is not going to be easy for Pakistan as it was before. The recent acquittal of terrorists like Omar Sheikh will also not go in its favour at the FATF,” former foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal told ThePrint, referring to Ahmad Omar Saeed Sheikh, the alleged mastermind of the abduction and murder of Wall Street Journal scribe Daniel Pearl in 2002.
“Besides, India will now mount a diplomatic pressure on other countries over these recent flare-ups at the LoC that will not let Pakistan escape the blacklist this time,” Sibal said.
On Pakistan’s economic worries, Sibal added: “Pakistan is least worried about the economic fallout of Covid-19. Its economy has been in trouble for long but that has not deterred it from supporting terrorism.”
The former foreign secretary, however, also said it will not be easy to blacklist Pakistan, which has the support of the US for the role it played in the Taliban peace deal, and also the fact that Pakistan is a close ally of China.