Pakistan terror network abroad overlooked by FATF


A decision to maintain Pakistans status in the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force {ISI} was taken on June 25 in Paris. A dissatisfied panel comprising China, among other things questioned why there is a seemingly unnecessary delay in the court proceedings of the 1373 UN designated terrorists imprisoned in the country. Pakistan was told to do more with regards to tracking and cracking down money laundering which they believe is a means to supply dosh for carrying out acts of terror.

One aspect that comes to mind that might thus far has been ignored by the FATF team is perhaps Pakistan terror financing operations involving their foreign missions. It would be interesting to note that recent news articles published in international print media manifest Pakistani Diplomats not only of indulging in antisocial and but even criminal behaviour and acts that are of terrorist nature.

Is it not true that individuals chosen to serve their countries in alien lands are carefully selected and trained? As a matter of fact, two Pakistani diplomats were recently caught stealing a hat worth $10.70 and chocolate worth $1.7 in Yongsan, South Korea, this April.

One might give them the benefit of doubt and call it a one off incident.

However, during recent years’ irrefutable evidence has been mounting regarding the criminal behaviour of Pakistani diplomatic community which is of a worrying nature. An incident took place in Bangladesh and resulted in the expulsion of Farina Arshad, Second Secretary (Political) working at the Pakistan High Commission in Dhaka. She was accused of facilitating terror financing in 2015.2

Amir Zubair Siddiqui, a visa counsellor at the Pakistan High Commission in Colombo had been put on the terror watch list by the Indian National Investigation Agency for indulging in

espionage and terror activities, and then came the arrest and deportation of two employees of the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi in 2020 who were accused of espionage.

An isolated incident may reflect an individual act, but regular and repeated offences tell a different story about Pakistani diplomats.

It is common knowledge that Pakistan’s foreign policy is controlled by the army at GHQ in Rawalpindi. The Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI) personnel are routinely deputed to Pakistani missions abroad. They have been caught red-handed on several occasions while pursuing terrorism-related and activities.

For instance, in 2001, Mohammad Arshad Cheema, First Secretary at the Pakistani high commission in Kathmandu, was arrested for possessing 16 kg of RDX.5 Few years back in 2014 Pakistani Defense Attache (and ISI representative) in Colombo, Colonel Shahryar Butt, was repatriated because he kept on ‘checking’ into the High Commission’s affairs.

The key to understanding the above phenomena lies in recognizing that ISI cells are present in almost all Pakistani Embassies. Perhaps, Pakistan has different standards for when it comes to diplomatic responsibilities. No wonder during the period between May 2018-19 the US had restricted the movement of Pakistani diplomats to a few square miles within Washington.

However, even more alarming is a spate of morally shameful acts that Pakistani diplomats have indulged into in the recent past. Allegations such as domestic abuse conducted against his spouse by Munir Akram, Pakistan’s current Permanent Representative to UN; arrest of Mazhar Khan, the Assistant Visa Officer at the Pakistani High Commission in Dhaka accused of dealing in fake currencies in 2015, abduction and rape charges brought against two Pakistani diplomats in the UK in 20146 and Waqas Ahmed, a Pakistani diplomat in Harare was arrested and imprisoned for human trafficking in May 2020.

These were crimes of such serious nature that Islamabad was forced to voluntarily surrendered their diplomatic immunity.

The murder of Baloch journalist Sajid Baloch in Sweden and that of human rights activist Karima Baloch are also attributed to the clandestine network of Pakistani ISI cells working from Pakistani missions abroad. In any future meeting of the FATF it would be wise to look into Pakistan’s involvement in global terrorism and to curb acts of terrorism that have made our world a less safe place.

(Amjad Ayub Mirza is an author and a human rights activist from Mirpur in PoJK. He currently lives in exile in the UK)