Cabinet okays steps to block terror financing

Published: February 14, 2018
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Pakistan's Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. PHOTO: REUTERS

Pakistan's Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: In a move that aims at tightening the noose on proscribed organisations, the federal cabinet has approved in principle the much-discussed ‘Anti-Terrorism (Freezing and Seizure) Rules 2018’ to block funding of terror outfits, freeze their accounts and proceed against them.

The approval was granted on Tuesday in a meeting presided over by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi at the PM Office. The cabinet’s nod implies that the funding to any outfit declared as proscribed by the Interior Ministry will immediately be blocked.

Under the rules, the law enforcement and security agencies would be mandated to take action on the basis of financial trail confirming funding to any terrorist or sectarian organisation, sources privy to the matter told The Express Tribune.

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They said terror financing through Hawala and Hundi would also be curbed and the security agencies would be allowed to arrest the perpetrators of financial crimes linked to terrorism either directly or indirectly.

In this connection, the security agencies will be authorised to work closely with the organisations dealing with financial crimes and related monetary bodies – the State Bank of Pakistan, the Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, the Federal Investigation Agency and the National Bank of Pakistan. Help will also be sought from the National Accountability Bureau in this regard.

Earlier on February 9, President Mamnoon Hussain promulgated the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018, further amending the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 to declare as proscribed the outfits that have been banned by the United Nations and initiate action against them accordingly.

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The measure, according to a senior government official said, primarily aims at taking on terrorist outfits, the sectarian organisations in particular, which have already been listed as banned by the Ministry of Interior and the National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta).

In March last, the federal government said it had finalised the rules regarding freezing and seizure of assets of proscribed organisations and persons on Schedule-IV of Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), 1997.

The PM’s Sub-Committee on Choking Financing for Terrorists and Terrorist Organisations was also formed mainly to stop terror financing through Hundi and Hawala. The State Bank has then confirmed having frozen some 4,461 bank accounts belonging to individuals placed on Schedule-IV of ATA, 1997.

In Oct 2016, the National Action Plan (NAP) Implementation Committee, presided over by National Security Adviser Nasser Khan Janjua, decided to set up a central record office to share information about terrorists, militants and other criminals in the ‘shortest possible time’ and choke terror funding.

Other decisions

The cabinet also approved Inter-Governmental Agreement between the Ministry of Energy and Oman’s Ministry of Oil and Gas for supply of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and POL products.

It also gave the nod to the signing of Inter-Government Agreement and Letter of Intent on Cooperation in the field of LNG between Pakistan and Italy and accorded permission to allow transit of container containing spare parts of Toyota vehicles from Karachi to Kabul.

The cabinet directed that the process of filling up vacant positions of the heads of organisations in various ministries be expedited. It also directed early operationalization of New Islamabad International Airport, an official statement said.

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AJK PM calls on Abbasi

Prime Minister Abbasi also met Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider and his team at the PM Office. A detailed presentation was given to Abbasi on development projects and activities being undertaken in AJK for socio-economic uplift and promoting tourism in the area.

The delegation appreciated enhancement of budget for AJK from Rs12 billion to Rs22 billion under the federal government and initiation of various landmark projects, including Mirpur-Muzaffarabad-Mansehra Expressway and establishment of Mirpur Special Economic Zone under the CPEC project

The meeting was informed that enhanced support from the government of Pakistan enabled AJK to take up rehabilitation of all major roads for better connectivity.

PM Abbasi reiterated the government’s continued support for socio-economic uplift of the people of AJK, development of infrastructure and promotion of tourism in the area.

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