EU should withdraw trade privilege to Pakistan for terror

In Summary

• On October 23 this year, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the international watchdog on money laundering and terrorist finance, had decided to keep Pakistan in the 'Grey List' till it complies with all the conditions set by the UN-mandated body.

• Even before the FATF plenary meeting on October 21-23, the EU had expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of commitment on the part of Pakistan to fulfil FATF requirements.

EU flag
EU flag
Image: REUTERS

The European Union (EU), which has been deeply sceptical of Pakistan’s anti-terror commitments, should immediately withdraw trade privileges extended to the terrorist-sponsor state.

Despite leading the international community’s efforts to sanction Pakistan for its continued support to terrorist groups, the EU has been giving trade privileges to Islamabad which countermanded its own efforts to reign in the terrorist-sponsor state to comply with international laws and norms on money laundering and terrorist financing.

On October 23 this year, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the international watchdog on money laundering and terrorist finance, had decided to keep Pakistan in the 'Grey List' till it complies with all the conditions set by the UN-mandated body.

Under normal circumstances, Pakistan should have been put on the `blacklist` because of its willful failure to comply with the 27-point action plan. Pakistan managed to escape the 'blacklist' thanks largely to China and other countries who lobbied on its behalf.

But the EU was clear that Pakistan did not deserve any further concessions. Even before the FATF plenary meeting on October 21-23, the EU had expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of commitment on the part of Pakistan to fulfil FATF requirements.

There are in fact four areas of deficiencies in Pakistan reported efforts to contain terrorist financing.

Pakistan has failed to prove that law enforcement agencies were really identifying and investigating all the activities related to terrorist financing. Pakistan has also failed to prosecute designated persons and entities, and their agents, despite consistent questioning by international bodies like FATF.

Second is Pakistan’s failure to show that terrorist financing prosecutions were effective and dissuasive.

The third is Pakistan’s laxity in implementing targeted financial sanctions against all 1,267 and 1,373 designated terrorists and those acting for or on their behalf, which included monitoring, investigating and prosecuting non-profit organisations associated with these terrorist entities.

Fourth is the absence of coordination and cooperation between different enforcement agencies in prosecuting terrorist entities and associated organisations and persons.

The EU has been acutely aware of these failings and Pakistan’s wilful disinterest in adhering to international laws on terrorism, including terrorist financing. The EU is also aware that Pakistan is home to the largest number of designated terrorists in the world.

And yet, the EU has been generous in its business dealings with Pakistan. It is bizarre, to say the least. Terrorist threats against Europe emanating from Pakistan remain the highest today. Pakistan’s failure to comply with FATF action plan makes it even more dangerous in the near future, not only for European countries but for the entire world.

The EU must keep in mind that Pakistan has been playing duplicitous games with the international community in dealing with terrorists. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan himself has admitted that his country hosted thousands of terrorists and, what he did not say was that, he cannot do anything about it.

Early this year, the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team of the UN Security Council had pointed out that over 6,500 Pakistani terrorists belonging to LeT and JeM were operating in Afghanistan. Several international organisations including the UN and FATF have called Pakistan an epicentre of terrorism.

Pakistan's role as epicentre of terrorism has been well documented by numerous international organisations including UN and FATF. It is not a secret that Pakistan provides shelter and support to terrorists and continues to peddle false and motivated narrative on the situation in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir in India.

The country seeks to portray its military, financial, logistical support to cross border terrorism against India as a freedom struggle. Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had, recently, accused the army and its intelligence agency of carrying out terrorist attacks against India.

On October 29, a senior Minister in the Imran Khan government declared on the floor of the National Assembly that Pakistan was behind the terrorist attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama last year. There have been similar admissions, in the past as well as the present, which clearly make Pakistan a terrorist-sponsor state.

Given the status of Pakistan, the EU must not hesitate to withdraw the trade privileges given to Islamabad forthwith. It will be in the right thing to do for the EU which has taken a strong stand against Pakistan’s unbridled support for terrorism.