In a bid to insulate itself from FATF’s grey and black lists forever, Pakistan’s National Assembly passed a bill on Thursday that seeks to form a central authority to curb money laundering and terror financing, bringing all institutions related to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) under one command. Pakistan has put its propaganda machinery at the national and international levels into full action to project and create hype about the passage of the bill as a proof of the country’s “sincere and honest” approach to elimination of terror funding”. But India views it as nothing but an eye-wash on the part of Pakistan, which is constantly under fear of being brought back to the grey list during the next review meeting of the FATF. This is another of Pakistan’s ploys to impress the global lenders at a time when the country is reeling from a massive financial crisis.

“A high-level team consisting of diplomats and security officials from New Delhi is already on the job to apprise the global money laundering and terror funding watchdog of the realities pertaining to terrorism in Pakistan,” a top diplomatic source said. “The Indian officials are now analysing the implications and other minute details of Pakistan’s bill so as to prepare their strategy to counter Pakistan at FATF and other at global platforms like the United Nations,” the source added.

“There is no dearth of documentary evidence to prove that Pakistan continues to be the home for terrorists. Its terror backing is known to all in the international community. It is a common knowledge that scores of US and UN designated terrorists are enjoying a safe haven in Pakistan,” a diplomat who is privy to meetings at the South Block here told The Sunday Guardian.

Pakistan Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Hina Rabbani Khar said that the need for the creation of this “authority” for inter-ministerial/agency coordination was felt after Pakistan’s exit from the grey list of FATF. In fact, the bill titled “National Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism

Authority Act, 2023” seeks to bring all institutions related to FATF under one authority. The proposed authority would, according to Khar, function as a focal institution and help the state give a unified response to curb the menace of money laundering and terror. “If this bill is enforced and properly implemented, Pakistan will never see the FATF grey list again,” she said.

“Is there any guarantee about the honesty of the new authority that the bill proposes to set up in a country where corruption is rampant?” ask diplomats taking a dig at Khar’s claim. “Who will monitor the corruption by the new authority?” sources ask, ridiculing Pakistan’s move. According to sources, Indian diplomatic officials have been asked to keep a close watch over the future course of action by Pakistan’s “so-called” authority that is supposed to take steps to curb money laundering and terror funding in their country. “Indian agencies in coordination with the US intelligence network will closely monitor the functioning of the new authority in Islamabad,” a source added.

Officials working in close coordination with their counterparts at FATF said that “The Paris-based money laundering global watchdog has been given sufficient documents that expose Pakistan’s nexus with Khalistanis all over the world. This fact must be taken note of by all responsible and major countries of the world.” “Pakistan has been sending terrorists to disrupt peace in India. Terror elements and militants are also involved in drug smuggling to earn money with which they fund Khalistanis across the globe. Are these activities going on without Pakistan’s government agencies’ connivance?

This question needs to be answered by Islamabad,” an official said.

Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s advisor, revealed recently that Pakistani smugglers were using drones to smuggle illicit drugs, mostly heroin, into Indian territory. He demanded a special package for the rehabilitation of the flood victims, as otherwise the victims would join the smugglers. “What picture does the revelation present about Pakistan?” ask officials here.

It is a clear indication that the Sharif government is aware of this kind of smuggling on the borders. “How can Pakistan be trusted that it is going to rein in terror funding?”

According to the officials, Pakistan will fail to show substantive results in terms of curbing terror financing, as its own state actors and security officials are backing the terror outfits and arranging funds for their training camps on the territory under Islamabad’s control. “Pakistan will not be able to match action with high sounding words that are there in the bill,” Indian official say. Pakistan is yet to take action against the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks, and if it claims to have become a sincere country from now onwards there must be action against terrorists, an official said. Last year, Pakistan was taken off the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global watchdog on terror financing.