Web Desk — Pakistan has frozen the accounts of 5,000 suspected militants, taking about $3 million out of their pockets, but Islamabad could still come under scrutiny at a crucial June meeting of an international watchdog that tracks terror financing.
Analysts and government officials say political foot-dragging and sympathetic supporters throughout Pakistan makes it difficult to cut off the money supply to banned militant groups.
Next month in Spain, the Financial Action Task Force will update its assessment of “high-risk and non-cooperative jurisdictions,” Alexandra Wijmenga-Daniel of the task force’s communications department said in an email. She did not offer any specifics.
The 35-nation intergovernmental organization was formed in 1989 to combat money laundering. After 9/11, it also took on the role of fighting the financing of terror. Getting on the task force’s “black list” could hurt a country’s ability to borrow, if its banking system is considered a money laundering haven.
In 2015, Pakistan was exempted from its scrutiny after a similar session applauded the country’s progress in tackling both money laundering and terror financing.
However, concerns have been raised by the resurrection of banned groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba under new names. Also worrying is the relative ease with which groups such as Jaish-e-Mohammed appear to operate, openly running Islamic seminaries and fundraising.
“The government has to find a way to completely ban individuals and groups (suspected of militant activity) from operating. This is the only way,” said Muhammad Amir Rana, director of the Islamabad-based Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies.