M Faizan Asghar
TWO months prior to the European Presidency elections, the visit of High-Level representative for Foreign and Security Affairs of European Union to Pakistan, is not only reflecting the successful foreign policies of current Government but also appreciating the tremendous achievements by Pakistan against Terrorism and Regional Peace and stability. No doubt with the cooperation of European Union, counter-terrorism, prevention of violent extremism and counter financing of terrorism and anti-money laundering to be one of the highest priorities of the Pakistan to address a growing threat to international peace and regional security. One such opportunity is the upcoming European Presidency, shared between Romania, Finland and Croatia, taking place over the next two months, during that period, as the new political landscape will be shaped after EU’s Presidency elections, the council of Europe will play a pivotal role in protecting the efforts against financing of terrorism and money laundering in FATF and strengthen the bilateral relationship between Pakistan and EU. It is more important than ever to find strength to step out of the prevailing sense of wariness. Current visit of High Representatives of EU demonstrates Pakistan a responsible and peaceful State in Asian region, place on collective and coordinated action on Terrorism, which remains the most complex peril faced by the global community.
Similarly Pakistan expects the EU and its new Presidency’s candidates to play central role in the provision of enhanced capacity building assistance to Pakistan and support in upcoming FATF meeting regarding reconsideration of Gray List and should acknowledge the efforts and services of Pakistan and its Law enforcement agencies against counter financing of terrorism and money laundering at FATF Forum. As part of EU’s ongoing Presidency Elections, Romania is emerging as possible and powerful candidate of the EU Presidency, Its soft foreign policy and focused objectives are very clear toward regional development, Peace, free of extremism and terrorism European region. Romania considers Pakistan as a credible and responsible state and supports Islamabad at every international forum including GSP Plus status which has increased Pakistan’s exports to the EU by more than 30 per cent.
European Union under the Presidency of Romania in this connectivity will also bring Pakistan and EU closer to each other and always applauded Pakistan’s efforts for regional peace and stability and counter financing of terrorism. EU Under the leadership of Romania, will align the European Union with the changed global reality and needs of the global community to acknowledge the sacrifices of the law enforcement agencies of Pakistan and its serious concerns against the involvement of Political leadership of neighbouring countries in terrorism financing and proxy bloodshed, sooner or later the price paid will be high in relations to terrorism within the region itself in proxy war and its financing. Romania-CTF policy toward effective acknowledgement of Pakistan’s efforts in FATF will contribute to the world body’s broader efforts to promote conflict prevention, sustainable peace and development. While terrorist organizations use modern tactics and forums such as social media, cyber space and dark-net to finance their activities and exists in parallel worlds alongside us in hidden trans-national nexus, without cognisance of Pakistan’s efforts, cannot work in silos created either by boundaries or bureaucracy.
Romania is not only committed to regional cooperation and development but will also cooperate with other international organizations dealing with issues related to state sponsored terrorism against Pakistan for fulfilling its mandate effectively. It’s important to build the EU-Pak narrative on counter terrorism financing for the peaceful and sovereign states that are threatened by this scourge. In the presence of FATF strategic deficiencies and Pakistan concerns about fairness of FATF in the presence of India, as candidate of Co-Chair of Joint body of ICRG of Asia Pacific Group that is reviewing Islamabad’s progress on the implementation of an action plan to combat terrorism and money laundering, Romania should use utmost support to Islamabad’s stance in the upcoming meeting of FATF.
Pakistan made high level political commitments to working with the FATF and Asia Pacific Group to strengthen its AML/CFT regime and address its strategic counter-terrorism financing-related deficiencies effectively. Pakistan worked to implement its action plan to accomplish objectives related to the (i) identification of TF risks and supervision applied on risk-sensitive basis; (ii) In AML/CFT violation cases, remedial actions and sanctions are being applied by financial intelligence units; (iii) financial surveillance put against suspicion transactions and illegal money transfer services; (iv) Improving inter-agency coordination between provincial and federal authorities on combating terrorism financing risks; (v) demonstrating That LEAs are identifying and investigating the widest range of TF transactions and activities; (vi) demonstrating that TF prosecutions result in effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions and enhancing the capacities and support for prosecutors and the Judiciary; and many others demonstrations are in practice to control AML/CFT.
Finally, The EU-Pak engine’s cylinders are firing one-sidedly at present, with Pakistan struggling to hold on to the steering wheel and keep improving the FATF compliance moving forward. The Romanian Presidency will have to smooth the path and put its own efforts to make the FATF platform fair to all countries, particularly for such states which are combating the Financing of Terrorism actively. A new plan, a new committee, a new piece of international legislations and International Quick Cooperation mechanism related to AML/CFT — these innovative steps will not remove politics from the dealings of states and governments. FATF and its Governing bodies should make their role fair and free of influenced from such countries like India etc. which are involved in proxy wars and financing of Terrorism against Peaceful and Sovereign states. Romania a pivotal member of EU and NATO and its historical ties with Pakistan, through its better connectivity and optimism should highlight the practical demonstrations by Islamabad in FATF upcoming meeting related to improving AML/CFT compliance against terrorism financing.
— The writer is Terrorism Analyst, RSIS, NTU Singapore.