SBP account freeze order: 4,000 Fourth Schedulers left out

Fourth Schedule comprises elements found to be or suspected to be involved in anti-state activities

Qadeer Tanoli September 28, 2016

ISLAMABAD: A recent decision of the State Bank of Pakistan to freeze the bank accounts of people on the Fourth Schedule is unlikely to yield the desired results as around 4,000 people from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa falling in this category have been left out.

In a major move to clamp down on terror financing the central bank on September 25 directed all commercial banks to freeze the accounts of 2,021 individuals who are listed on the Fourth Schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) 1997.

Section 11-O of the ATA provides for freezing and seizing of money or other properties owned directly or indirectly by a person put in the category.  According to sources, these 2,021 people – details of which have been shared with banks by the SBP – are mostly leaders or office-bearers of sectarian groups.

The Fourth Schedule comprises elements found to be or suspected to be involved in anti-state activities, delivering hate speeches and/or activists of religious outfits not yet banned but related with militancy in any way.

According to the SBP letter, written to the banks and other financial institutions, 1,443 Fourth Schedulers belong to Punjab, 226 to Sindh, 193 to Balochistan, 26 to Azad Jammu and Kashmir, 106 to Gilgit-Baltistan and 27 to Islamabad Capital Territory.

There are around 6,000 to 8,000 persons on the Fourth Schedule. Of these, 50 per cent belong to K-P, but the province’s list is currently unavailable with the National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta); therefore, no action can be taken against them as far as freezing of accounts is concerned.

A few months ago, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had decided to hand over the job of looking into the affairs of the Fourth Schedulers to Nacta.

In February, The interior ministry decided to tighten noose around Fourth Schedulers, including member of proscribed organisations and human traffickers. It had vowed to cancel their travel documents as well as to block their national identity cards and to restrict their rights to open or operation bank accounts.

Under different section of the ATA, the Centre and the provinces may keep a suspect under observation on the basis of information received from any source that the person is an activist, office-bearer or an associate of any organisation which is suspected to be involved in terrorism or sectarianism.

The names of such persons are put on a list which is known is Fourth Schedule. The matters pertaining to Fourth Schedulers are handled under the ATA and basically the provinces are responsible to maintain lists in this context.

Sources in the interior ministry told The Express Tribune that since the K-P government did not share the revised list of Fourth Scheduler with Nacta, it could not be given to the SBP for taking required action. Nacta had asked the provinces to submit Fourth Schedulers’ list with it and couple of months ago all the provinces had shared these lists.

However, the lists handed over to Nacta had many flaws and the authority asked the provinces to revisit them and re-submit after removing shortcomings. The provinces, excluding K-P, re-submitted the lists which were shared with the SBP for freezing accounts.

In many cases, especially in K-P, the persons whose names have been placed under proscribed category also guide the law enforcement agencies how to deal with the law and order situation during sensitive days, especially in Muharram.

Interestingly, despite making several attempts to make a consolidated list of fourth schedulers there exists no such list. Moreover, the lists of Fourth Schedulers have never been made public due to reasons best known to authorities concerned.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 28th, 2016.


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