Islamabad: Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan on Friday said he would help Pakistan stay off a terrorism financing blacklist at a meeting of a global finance watchdog, a move he suggested would counter “political pressure” from Islamabad’s critics.
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which tackles money laundering, told Islamabad late last year that it could face blacklisting if it continued to apply inadequate controls over terrorism financing.
The FATF is meeting next week in France, and support from Turkey and longtime allies like China, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia could help Pakistan remain off the blacklist.
A minimum of three votes are required for any country to escape the blacklisting.
File image of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Reuters
If it joined the blacklist alongside Iran and North Korea, Islamabad would face sanctions and economic setbacks at a time when its economy is struggling with a balance of payment crisis.
“We will be supporting Pakistan at the Financial Action Task Force meetings, where Pakistan is subject to political pressure,” Erdogan told Pakistan’s parliament a day after he arrived in Islamabad.
Notwithstanding India’s objection, Erdogan once again raked up the Kashmir issue, vowing that Ankara will support Pakistan’s stand as it is a matter of concern to both the countries.
Voicing his country’s support to Pakistan’s stand on the Kashmir issue, he said it can be resolved not through conflict or oppression but on the basis of justice and fairness.
“Our Kashmiri brothers and sisters have suffered from inconveniences for decades and these sufferings have become graver due to unilateral steps taken in recent times,” Erdogan said, apparently referring to India revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir in August last year.
“Today, the issue of Kashmir is as close to us as it is to you (Pakistanis).
“Such a solution (on the basis of justice and fairness) will serve the interests of all parties concerned. Turkey will continue to stand by justice, peace and dialogue in the resolution of the Kashmir issue,” the president said.
The Turkish president, in his address, likened the “struggle” of the Kashmiris with that of his country in the World War I against foreign domination.
Drawing comparison with the battle of Gallipoli which was fought in Turkey between the Allied Powers and the Ottoman Empire in which over two lakh troops were killed on the both sides, Erdogan said “there is no difference between Gallipoli and Kashmir”.
“Turkey will continue to raise its voice against the oppression,” he told Pakistani lawmakers in his address to the National Assembly and Senate, which was his record fourth address to the Pakistani Parliament over the years.
In September last year, Erdogan raised the Kashmir issue during his address at the United Nations General Assembly.
Reacting to his remarks in the UN, India said it “deeply regrets” the statement of Turkey on the Kashmir issue, and termed it an internal matter.
External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar called upon Turkey to have a proper understanding of the situation in Kashmir before making further comments.
India revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on 5 August. Reacting to India’s move, Pakistan downgraded diplomatic ties with New Delhi and expelled the Indian High Commissioner.
India has always maintained that Jammu and Kashmir is its integral part and ruled out any third party mediation, including either from the UN or the US, saying it is a bilateral issue with Pakistan.
The FATF already has Pakistan on its “grey-list” of countries with inadequate controls over curbing money laundering and terrorism financing.
But its arch-rival India, which came close to war with its nuclear-armed neighbour last year, wants Pakistan blacklisted.
Of 40 recommendations made by the watchdog, Pakistan had fully complied with only one, largely complied with nine, partially complied with 26, and totally missed four parameters, which were mandatory if Islamabad wanted to be removed from the grey-list, a review by the group last year said.
The FATF says Pakistan should adequately identify, assess and understand risks associated with militant groups operating in Pakistan such as Islamic State group, al-Qaeda, Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD), Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), which continue to raise funds openly.
Pakistan says it has made a significant improvement on the requirements since the last review.
Islamabad says it has seized the groups’ assets and put the militants on trials, like the entire leadership of the JuD, including its chief Hafiz Saeed, the alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks in India, which killed 166 people.
In a move praised by Washington as an important step forward, Saeed was jailed for 11 years on Wednesday on terrorism financing charges.
Pakistan remained committed to the earliest completion of its FATF action plan, Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar tweeted on Wednesday.
With inputs from agencies
Tayyip Erodgan says will oppose Pakistan blacklisting at FATF, Kashmir matter of concern to both New Delhi and Islamabad