New Delhi: Around 30-40 exiled dissidents from Balochistan, Tibet, Hong Kong and of the Pashtun and Uyghur communities Saturday protested outside the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) headquarters in Paris urging action against Pakistan.
The top anti-money laundering and terror financing watchdog is set to decide on Pakistan’s ‘grey list’ status at its plenary session from 22-25 March.
Protestors held up placards saying “blacklist Pakistan” and “Why no action against Maulana Masood Azhar?”.
Azhar is the founder and leader of terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed.
The idea of this protest is to remind the FATF of Pakistan’s continued support to terror groups and terror financing, said Paris-based Pakistani journalist and organiser of the protest, Taha Siddiqui, in a video sent to ThePrint.
Siddiqui began living in exile in France in 2018 after armed men from Pakistan government agencies allegedly tried to abduct or assassinate him.
In 2018, Pakistan was placed on the FATF’s list of “jurisdictions under increased monitoring”, more popularly known as the ‘grey list’.
It was given an Action Plan comprising 27 points for compliance with regard to prosecutions, money laundering, terrorism financing, and targeted financial sanctions to choke the flow of funds to designated terrorist organisations, terrorists and their associates.
In October 2020, the watchdog declared that Pakistan complied with 21 of the 27 points of action and decided to keep the country on its ‘grey list’.
Alleging a “Pakistan-China nexus” that is protecting Pakistan from being blacklisted, Siddiqui said in the video, “The FATF should not come under the pressure of China, it should not be blackmailed by China.”
In a press release, the protesters said China has defended Pakistan at various multilateral forums on the issue of terrorism.
For example, China blocked the listing of Azhar as a global terrorist at the United Nations Security Council for a decade arguing that there wasn’t enough evidence against Azhar and citing “procedural problems”,” stated the protestors.
They also cited the recent acquittal of terrorist Omar Saeed Sheikh, who was sentenced for the murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl, by a Pakistani court.
Speaking to ThePrint, Hong Kong activist Kenneth Yeung, 37, who moved to Paris last July, said, “The FATF decision will not only help pushing Pakistan to a relatively healthier condition of financial reforms in the future, but also acts as an indirect but significant role in stopping the spread of Chinese imperialism and genocide in Xinjiang.”
The protesters have also urged the FATF to take cognisance of China-Pakistan projects such as the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that they say “lack transparency”.