Pakistan acts to choke militants’ funding by implementing anti-terror plan

TasneemISLAMABAD (NNI): Pakistan has frozen bank accounts of hardliner group”Jamaat-ud-Dawa”(JuD) as part of the country’s move to block funding to militant outfits.

A spokesperson for the foreign ministry Tasnim Aslam publicly confirmed the decision at her weekly briefing on Thursday amid Pakistan’s efforts to implement a national anti-terrorism plan.

Although the foreign ministry linked the freezing of the JuD’s accounts to an earlier UN decision, it is the first time that Pakistan officially made it public.

The UN Security Council had listed Jamaat-ud-Dawa as an alias of the outlawed Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group. India and the United States insist Lashkar-e-Taiba was behind the 2008 deadly attacks in central Mumbai.

Choking financing for terrorists and terrorist organizations is part of the 20-point “National Action Plan”, or NAP, announced days after a group of heavily armed Taliban militants killed 140 children and 10 staff members of an army-run school in Peshawar on Dec. 16.

As the Pakistani authorities are now serious about implementing the NAP, they are also taking action to block foreign funding to the militant groups. Officials believe outlawed armed groups had been receiving funding through illegitimate overseas banking channels.

The government informed the Senate Standing Committee on Finance this month that more than 1 billion rupees worth of accounts (about 16.3 million U.S. dollars) of banned organizations had been frozen in Pakistan in order to implement the UN resolutions on curbing terrorist financing.

Officials say they are now effectively dealing with all domestic and international flows of funds to suspected terrorist entities in accordance with an anti-money laundering law.Pakistan is also obliged to curb terrorist financing to meet its international obligations.

Officials also say Pakistan is trying to meet international standards with its present laws by obstructing terrorist financing, as the international community could otherwise declare the country as high-risk and non-cooperative, as regards the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing (AML/CFT).

Curbing funding to terrorists will be part of the national plan and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar presided over a meeting of senior officials to discuss “ways and means to choke finances for terrorists and terrorist organizations,” the finance ministry said.

Officials believe that the “hawala and hundi,” an informal system of transferring money, had been a source of funding to militant groups in Pakistan. People can transfer money through this non-banking channel without records being kept. No one except those who transfer and receive the money know about the transaction. “Hawala and hundi” system had previously been common in northwestern parts of the country that had badly been affected by violent extremism, but Pakistan has to a large extent curbed this system and efforts are continuing to strictly monitor all such illegal channels.

Pakistan is also actively involved in discussions with other countries, especially the Gulf states, to help in curbing terrorist financing by closely monitoring the transfer of money through illegal channels.

Dar said there is a need to promote legal channels for transferring money within and from outside the country that he said will also help to completely discourage illegal channels and non-banking systems. Officials are also concerned over drug- trafficking, which is also thought to be a potential source of terrorist funding.

Pakistan will also have to address the proper training and knowledge of their law enforcing personnel to track and investigate terrorist financing channels. NNI

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