ISLAMABAD – The United States has put forward a motion to place Pakistan on a global terrorist-financing watchlist with an anti-money laundering monitoring group, according to a senior Pakistani official.
Pakistan has been scrambling in recent months to avert being added to a list of countries deemed non-compliant with terrorist financing regulations by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a measure officials fear could hurt its economy.
The United States has been threatening to get tough with Islamabad over its alleged ties with Islamist militants, and last month President Donald Trump’s administration suspended aid worth about $2 billion.
Islamabad, which denies assisting militants in Afghanistan and India, has reacted angrily to U.S. threats of further punitive measures.
A meeting of FATF member states is due to take place next week in Paris, where the organization could adopt the motion on Pakistan.
Pakistan’s de facto finance minister, Miftah Ismail, told Reuters the United States and Britain put forward the motion several weeks ago, and later persuaded France and Germany to co-sponsor it.
“We are now working with the U.S., UK, Germany and France for the nomination to be withdrawn,” Ismail said, speaking by telephone from Europe. “We are also quite hopeful that even if the U.S. did not withdraw the nomination that we will prevail and not be put on the watchlist.”
Pakistan was previously on the FATF watchlist from 2012 to 2015.
A senior U.S. official who follows U.S. policy in the region said Pakistan has “always been selective” in cracking down on militants who use its territory as a base.
“It is time for that to stop, and so we are working with our allies, who also are affected, to see effective action against groups such as the Haqqanis and elements of the Taliban,” said the official, referring to militants operating along the border with Afghanistan.
The FATF, an intergovernmental body based in Paris that sets global standards for fighting illicit finance, had previously warned Islamabad it could be put back on the list without further efforts to crack down on the flow of funds to militants.
Pakistani officials and Western diplomats say being put on the FATF watchlist could deal a blow to Pakistan’s economy as it would make it harder for foreign investors and companies to do business in the nuclear-armed South Asian nation.
“If you’re put on a terror watchlist, you’re made to go through all the (extra) scrutiny,” Pakistan’s former counterterrorism chief, Khawaja Khalid Farooq, told Reuters. “It can hurt the economy very badly.”
Officials also fear it would be harder and more expensive for Pakistan to borrow money from the international debt markets if it was put on the FATF monitoring list.
Ismail said the FATF motion focused on Hafiz Saeed, a Pakistan-based Islamist who India accuses of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people. That suggested the United States had put forward the motion at India’s behest, he said.
“The U.S. has consistently expressed our longstanding concern about ongoing deficiencies in Pakistan’s implementation of its anti-money laundering and counterterrorism finance regime,” said a spokesperson from the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad.
The United States was “absolutely not” acting on behalf of India in pressing Pakistan on the issue, the spokesperson said.
“In addition to broader systemic concerns, this also concerns Pakistan’s non-compliance with its commitments under the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1267,” the spokesperson added.
Resolution 1267 requires all states to freeze the assets of people and organizations on a list established by the resolution, including Saeed and his “Islamic charities”. Washington has designated Saeed a terrorist.
Saeed has repeatedly denied involvement in the Mumbai attacks and says the charitable organizations he founded and controls have no ties with militants.
On Monday, Pakistan announced it had amended its anti-terrorism law to ban militant groups and organizations that are listed as “terrorists” by the United Nations, a move seen to be targeting those charities.
Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf told Reuters the law changes approved by the country’s president were meant to reflect obligations under the U.N. Security Council charter.
“We have to march with the changing times,” Ausaf said, adding that the new laws would enable the government to track fundraising activities of all the U.N.-proscribed groups and take punitive action such as freezing their assets.
“MAKES NO SENSE”
In December, Pakistan’s government drew up plans to seize control of Saeed’s Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation charities. Critics say previous such efforts have faded once pressure on Pakistan eased.
Washington and the U.N. say JuD and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation are a front for the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant group, which Saeed founded in 1987.
Ismail said Pakistan had already taken over some parts of Saeed’s organizations and that he believed other FATF nations would recognize Pakistan had made serious efforts to deal with militant financing.
He added that moves to put Islamabad on the FATF watchlist were counter-productive when Pakistan was already undergoing “mutual evaluation” by experts from other countries, who are measuring progress in curbing illicit fund flows.
“It’s a very intrusive process and…we are happy to work with them, but while we are being given mutual evaluation, it makes no sense for us to be now put on the watchlist,” Ismail said.
Reporting by Asif Shahzad and Drazen Jorgic; Additional reporting by John Walcott in Washington; Writing by Drazen Jorgic;
Mexican Oil Shake-up Likely If Frontrunner Wins Presidency Top Adviser
MEXICO CITY – Mexico’s presidential frontrunner is not opposed to foreign investment in the country’s oil, a top adviser said, but his government would make dramatic changes to energy strategy, including a new focus on refining rather than crude exports.
In perhaps the most significant change envisioned by Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the favorite to win the July 1 election, Mexico would seek to end decades of exporting crude in three years, a lawmaker who Lopez Obrador has tapped to be his future energy minister said in an interview.
Instead, Mexico should turn its focus to producing value-added fuels, processing crude domestically to produce more gasoline and diesel at refineries owned by state oil company Pemex, Rocio Nahle told Reuters late on Wednesday.
Reporting by David Alire Garcia,
Haiti Suspends Oxfam Gbs Operating Right Amid Misconduct Probe
PORT-AU-PRINCE – Haiti has temporarily revoked Oxfam Great Britain’s right to operate in the Caribbean country after allegations of sexual misconduct by some of the charity’s staff there, Planning and External Cooperation Minister Aviol Fleurant said on Thursday.
The British aid organization has been rocked by allegations that staff, including a former Haiti country director, used prostitutes during a relief mission after a devastating earthquake hit the island nation in 2010.
Fleurant said the suspension was ordered due to “serious failings” by Oxfam Great Britain between 2010 and 2011, and that a definitive decision on its ability to operate in Haiti would be made in two months following a review of the evidence.
“If during the two month-long investigation I find out there is a link between the aid funds that Oxfam received on behalf of Haiti and the crime that has been committed, we will … declare Oxfam Great Britain persona non grata and they would have to leave the country without further delay,” Fleurant said.
Haiti’s Minister of Planning and External Cooperation Aviol Fleurant shows a document after a meeting with Oxfam International Regional Director for Latin America, Simon Ticehurst, and Oxfam Intermon Executive Affiliate Unit head, Margalida Massot, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, February 22, 2018. REUTERS/Andres Martinez CasaresAlain Lemithe, a lawyer representing Oxfam Great Britain, called the decision to suspend the charity “hasty and political”, saying that it was not based on clear evidence of wrongdoing.
“For example, they accused the organization of sexual abuse and use of minors,” Lemithe said. “Those are very serious allegations which until now have never been proven.”
Slideshow (3 Images)In a separate statement, Fleurant accused Oxfam staff of committing acts of “sexual abuse” and exploitation.
The minister said Oxfam Great Britain had “deliberately omitted” to alert Haitian authorities about the alleged misconduct, thereby allowing perpetrators to escape justice.
Allegations of misconduct surfaced through media investigations and an internal Oxfam report. Fleurant said the revelations had besmirched the “honor and dignity” of Haiti’s people.
The suspension of the charity’s right to operate did not apply to Oxfam Canada, he said.
Brit Newlywed Jon Udall Dies 12 Days After Grand Canyon Helicopter Crash That Killed Three Other Brits And Left His Bride ‘critical’
A NEWLYWED has become the fourth Brit to die in a horrifying Grand Canyon helicopter crash.
Jon Udall has died 12 days after the shocking accident – his new wife, Ellie Milward, is still in a critical condition in hospital.
Jon Udall and his wife Ellie – the pair were on their honeymoon in America
The pair were on their honeymoon in Las Vegas when they took the helicopter tour.
Pictures of the happy couple celebrating their marriage just months before emerged in the days that followed.
Six passengers and a pilot were on board the Papillon Airways EC-130 when it crashed into the Arizona landmark.
A family friend wrote a heartbroken post confirming Jon’s death on a Just Giving page set up to help pay for their medical costs after the accident.
Jon had been in hospital for 12 days but died from his injuries
Jon and Ellie on their wedding day just months before the horrifying crash
AP:Associated Press A survivor was pitched miraculously walking away from the burning helicopter
He said: “It is with a very heavy heart that I must type this. Our Good friend Jon Udall has succumbed to his injuries.
“He was strong, brave and I will never forget him. I will update this page when possible.
“Ellie is critical and is continuing to fight.”
Stuart Hill, celebrating his 30th birthday, his girlfriend Becky Dobson, 27, and his brother Jason, 32, were killed.
Caters They were in America as part of their honeymoon after having got married months before
He had got married just months before the accident Three British tourists killed in a helicopter crash in the Grand Canyon have been named by US police
Pals Jennifer Barham, 39, and honeymooning couple Ellie, 29, and Jon, 32, were fighting for their lives in hospital last night – tragically Jon has since died.
Witnesses described scenes of chaos after spotting the sight-seeing aircraft engulfed in flames approximately 600ft inside the ravine.
Jon was trapped in the wreckage for eight hours before being rescued after Ellie staggered free.
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