The United Nations can slap Iran and North Korea-like sanctions on Pakistan next year if the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) standards on curbing money laundering and terror financing are not met. In an attempt to ward off this threat, Pakistan is now lobbying to seek international support and feels that the reason it is being targeted is because the FATF is heavily dominated by Western countries and India. Instead of being worried about the FATF’s member countries’ “political motives”, Pakistan should focus on meeting the requirements set by the international anti-money laundering watchdog, as curbing terrorism is something that should be our top priority in any case. Pakistan has suffered the most from home-grown terror; we have lost more than 40,000 lives in terror attacks. The fact that non-state actors have managed to launch cross-border terror attacks and planned attacks in other countries has put Pakistan in further trouble.
The government has reportedly improved the current legislation on counterterrorism financing, which will soon be presented before parliament for approval. The anti-terror legislation must be brought forward as soon as possible. It is an open secret how some terrorist organisations use to have links to elements within the establishment. Since the government was unable to stop these elements from pursuing a deeply flawed policy, the least it can do is put a firm stop to terrorist-funding by bringing in a strong anti-terror legislation. Money laundering is one of the primary sources of finance through which terrorist groups are able to fund their activities. If this source of financing can be cut off, we would be able to somewhat control our terror problems.
Pakistanis live in constant fear of terror attacks on both military and civilian targets. Ridding our soil of terrorists is a win-win for both Pakistan and the international community. It is about time we took this important step and brought forward the anti-terror legislation.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 3rd, 2012.