U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is reportedly trying to add Pakistan to a global terrorist-financing watchlist maintained by a counter-money laundering monitoring group.
The Trump administration has already suspended an estimated $2 billion in security aid for Islamabad over Pakistan’s reluctance to take decisive action against jihadist organizations who plan attacks against American troops and their allies in Afghanistan from Pakistani soil.
Islamabad denies harboring terrorists.
Some Republicans in the U.S. Congress have introduced legislation for the American government to add Pakistan to the United States list of state-sponsors of terrorism.
Now, Reuters reports:
The United States has put forward a motion to place Pakistan on a global terrorist-financing watchlist with an anti-money-laundering monitoring group, according to a senior Pakistani official.
Pakistan has been scrambling in recent months to avert being added to a list of countries deemed non-compliant with terrorist financing regulations by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a measure that officials fear could hurt its economy.
The FATF, which establishes global standards for combating illicit finance, is expected to meet in Paris next week where the monitor group may approve the motion on Pakistan.
In explaining what adding Pakistan to the FATF watchlist would to the country, Diaa Hadid, an Islamabad-based reporter for National Public Radio (NPR), notes that it “would make it harder for Pakistan to obtain international loans and for investors to come here. That would be a punishment for Pakistan because the economic situation right now is quite precarious.”
“If you’re put on a terror watchlist, you’re made to go through all the [extra] scrutiny,” Khawaja Khalid Farooq, the former counterterrorism chief in Pakistan, told Reuters. “It can hurt the economy very badly.”
According to Miftah Ismail, Pakistan’s de facto finance minister, Britain, France, and Germany have been identified as co-sponsors of the U.S. motion to designate Pakistan as a global terrorist financier.
“We are now working with the U.S., UK, Germany, and France for the nomination to be withdrawn,” Ismail told Reuters. “We are also quite hopeful that even if the U.S. did not withdraw the nomination that we will prevail and not be put on the watchlist.”
Pakistan was added to the FATF watchlist from 2012 to 2015, notes Reuters.
Acknowledging that Islamabad has “always been selective” in combating terrorist groups who use its territory as a base of operations, an anonymous U.S. official told Reuters, “It is time for that to stop, and so we are working with our allies, who also are affected, to see effective action against groups such as the Haqqanis and elements of the Taliban.”
The Pentagon has long accused Pakistan of harboring terrorist groups who kill and maim American troops in Afghanistan.