The United States says the UN Security Council’s decision to facilitate funds for designated terrorist Hafiz Saeed in Pakistan was actually a “welcome” step, as it shows that Pakistan is working towards greater accountability for its counter-terrorism efforts as part of its commitments at the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
“It’s counter-intuitive, but this is actually a positive step,” U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells said in reply to a question from The Hindu.
“Countries are required under the obligations of the listings that for any UN designated individuals, you account for whatever money flow is permitted, such as the family expenses of Hafiz Saeed. So actually having these submissions indicates a level of transparency and a key requirement of FATF,” Ms. Wells added, speaking to a few journalists on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on Friday, about U.S. policy in South and Central Asia.
As The Hindu had reported this week, Pakistan’s move to apply for Hafiz Saeed to access Pakistan Rs.1,50,000 per month for “family expenses” had followed searching questions at the FATF’s Asia Pacific subgroup in May this year, which had asked how more than 100 UN-sanctioned entities based in Pakistan were sustaining themselves. Delegates at the meeting in Beijing, which included Indian counter-terrorism and anti-money laundering experts from the Finance and Home Ministry, had wanted further details on the functioning of these entities.
Pakistan has been trying to show its commitment to a mandated 27-point action plan ahead of the FATF plenary October 13-18 this year, which will not only look at revoking or continuing with Pakistan’s “greylist” status, but could even consider blacklisting Pakistan and putting it under further financial scrutiny. Ms. Wells said the next few weeks were a “very important time” for Pakistan, given the FATF decision as well as a final decision on its IMF programme, and its economy could well depend on its actions against terrorist infrastructure inside the country.
“Pakistan’s economic vitality is going to be a function of its ability to tackle what have been these difficult issues of counter terror financing and ensuring that the economy is properly documented,” Ms. Wells said, adding that the U.S. believes it has “seen some positive steps taken by Pakistan recently and we would like to see Pakistan complete this action plan which is a technically evaluated process by member countries at FATF.