Srinagar: Saudi Arabia joined Turkey and China in a move to block a US-led attempt this week to place Pakistan on an international terror-financing watch list, top US daily Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
A US effort to reverse the decision on the motion was under way Wednesday at a meeting in Paris of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a secretive international body that monitors countries’ efforts to fight terror financing and money-laundering, officials involved in the process told the Wall Street Journal.
The report, quoting the officials said the US effort, which included pressure on the Saudis, raised the possibility of a fresh vote on action against Pakistan as soon as Thursday.
The Pakistanis were scrambling to shore up support, it added.
Citing inadequate steps to curb terror financing the US had tabled the motion seeking tougher actions against Islamabad. The bid came after the ties between the two war on terror allies hit rock bottom when President Donald Trump Pakistan of ‘lies and deceit’ in a New Year tweet. Later, the Trump administration withheld $2 billion in security aid until it sees much stronger action against militants.
Pakistan denies those accusations and says there are no terrorist sanctuaries within its territory. It believed that the move to put it on the ‘Grey List’ was provoked by India.
It was Saudi Arabia’s surprise backing that secured the necessary opposing votes to block the US motion, the newspaper said. Pakistan was supported by China and Turkey heading into the FATF working-group meeting earlier this week.
Pakistan lobbied FATF member countries to keep it off the watch list. But before this, Islamabad put a ban on the activities of Jamat-ud-Dawa and its affiliated charity Fallah-e-Insaniyat Foundation under a hastily issued presidential ordinance.
Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif on Wednesday thanked the friendly countries who helped in garnering support against the US move but didn’t mention who they were. “No consensus for nominating Pakistan,” he said on twitter, adding, “Grateful to friends who helped.”
Whether Saudi Arabia sticks by Pakistan now is key, with the issue likely to come before the full FATF membership at the plenary meeting.
“We’re anticipating that the final decision would be made on Thursday of this week,” said Heather Nauert, a US State Department spokeswoman, reiterating that Pakistan was among countries that aren’t doing enough “to crack down on terror financing, counterterrorism and the like.”
Pakistan announced to send troops to Saudia Arabia earlier this month, in what the officials claim ‘an advisory and training’ mission under an old agreement. Defence Minister Khurram Dastagir, however, denied any connection between Saudi’s FATF support and troop deployment.
He said that the Pakistani soldiers would be “spread quite widely around the kingdom” under an agreement with the Saudis dating back to the 1980s.
“The Saudis now have enhanced training needs,” Dastgir-Khan said. “Pakistan is acting to bolster the capacity of the Saudis.”