To avoid FATF blacklist, Pakistan sanctions 88 including Haqqani Network members, Taliban’s Mullah Baradar, LeT’s Lakhvi

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Srinagar: Pakistan has issued a fresh notification proscribing 88 chiefs and members of militant groups, including Dawood Ibrahim and LeT commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, in order to avoid blacklisting by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

The country has also issued sweeping financial sanctions against Afghanistan’s Taliban, just as the militant group is in the middle of a United States-led peace process in the neighbouring country.

On Friday, the orders, according to a report by Al Jazeera, were made public and it identified dozens of individuals, including the Taliban’s chief peace negotiator Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and several members of the Haqqani family, including Sirajuddin, the current head of the Haqqani Network and deputy head of the Taliban.

The report added that list of sanctioned groups included others besides the Taliban and was in keeping with a five-year-old United Nations resolution sanctioning the Afghan group and freezing their assets.

According to the officials who spoke to Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the media, the orders were issued as part of Pakistan’s efforts to avoid being blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which monitors money laundering and tracks “militant” groups’ activities.

Later, in a statement Pakistan’s foreign ministry spokesman said it issued the sanctions order on August 18 according to “information contained in the list entry of UN designated individuals and entities”.

“These lists contain names of individuals and entities designated under the two sanction regimes established pursuant to the UN Security Council resolutions,” it said, denying any new sanctions were imposed, as were reported in “sections of media”.

Last year, the Paris-based FATF put Islamabad on a grey list. Until now, only Iran and North Korea are blacklisted, which severely restricts a country’s international borrowing capabilities.

According to the report, many of the group’s leaders are known to own businesses and property in Pakistan. However, there was no immediate response from the Taliban for it.

In 2001, Pakistan denied giving sanctuary to the Taliban following their removal by the US-led coalition. The report added that Washington and Kabul have routinely accused Islamabad of giving them a safe haven.

On 29, February 2020, the US signed a peace deal with the Taliban intending to end Washington’s nearly 20 years of military engagement in Afghanistan. It has also been touted as the nation’s best hope for peace after more than four decades of war.

But even as Washington has already begun withdrawing its soldiers, efforts to get talks started between Kabul’s political leadership and the Taliban have been stymied by delays in a prisoner release programme, the report said.

Ahead of the talks, seen as good will gesture, the two sides are to release prisoners. 5,000 inmates would be released by the government and 1,000 by the Taliban. However, both the sides are blaming other for the delays.


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