At the FATF plenary, held through videoconferencing, Pakistan was due for a decision on whether it would be kept on the “greylist” or downgraded to the blacklist for failing to meet the finance watchdog’s 27-point action plan on countering terror financing and anti-money laundering (CFT/AML) measures.
Sources said the FATF, which had given Pakistan two extensions to comply with its action plan since October 2019, decided unanimously to postpone decisions on all countries under “increased monitoring” or the “greylist”, as well on “high risk jurisdictions”, as the “blacklist” is formally known, owing to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The FATF decision came even as the U.S. released its 2019 country report for terrorism, where the State Department said Pakistan had continued to “ serve as a safe haven” for regional terrorist groups.
“It allowed groups targeting Afghanistan, including the Afghan Taliban and affiliated HQN, as well as groups targeting India, including LeT and its affiliated front organizations, and JeM, to operate from its territory,” said the report, adding that while it (Pakistan) had taken “modest” steps in 2019 to tackle terror financing and restrain some India-focused terrorist organizations after the February 14 terror attack in Pulwama last year, it still had not taken “ decisive action” that would undermine the operational capability of India and Afghanistan focused terrorists.
The U.S. government releases country-wise retrospective reports on terrorism each year.
The report also took note of LeT chief Hafiz Saeed’s arrest last year but pointed out that JeM founder Masood Azhar and Sajid Mir were at large. Azhar was designated a global terrorist by the U.N. last year.
However, the report said Pakistan had played a “constructive role” in facilitating U.S. talks with the Taliban.
The U.S. has looked to Pakistan for playing a key role in supporting its deal with the Taliban as a part of a reconciliation process in Afghanistan ahead of its pullout of troops.
Pakistan said it was “disappointed” at the U.S. for vetoing its joint request with China to have one of four Indians listed with the UNSC sanctions Committee on designating terror entities.
In September 2019, Pakistan and China moved the joint proposal to declare Mr. Dongara, an Indian engineer working in Afghanistan, as a sanctioned terrorist with links to groups like the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Jamaatul Ahrar (JuA).
Pakistan has alleged the four Indians: Venumadhav Dongara, Ajoy Mistry, Gobinda Patnaik, and Angara Appaji were all involved in “funding terrorist activities”.
The Ministry of External Affairs declined to comment on the allegations, or the U.S. decision to veto the listing.
“We are disappointed that Pakistan’s proposal to designate Venumadhav Dongara as a terrorist has been objected to. Pakistan hopes that the listing requests of other three Indian nationals will be given due consideration in an objective and transparent manner”, said a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan, that alleged that the four individuals now reside in India.
(With inputs from Suhasini Haidar)