The state is trying to cover all bases with newfound vigour after multiple tragedies have shaken its control over national security. One of these measures is to crackdown on the monetary avenues through which terrorism flows. While this is an essential counter terrorism goal, the policy that the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has released may not be creative enough to impact terror financing.
SBP has asked all banks, development financial institutions and micro-finance banks, to continuously monitor account holders. While opening new accounts or extending services to customers they have asked that any similarity between the identifying information of the customer and that of proscribed entities and persons including national identification number, address, etc., be viewed with suspicion and properly investigated. However, it seems unlikely that those recruited as militants would be applying for micro-finance anytime soon.
Though constant vigilance by financial institutions must be encouraged we have no clear picture of the informal non-institutional methods of money transfer between these individual and groups. Financial corruption permeates all parts of Pakistan, from the real estate market to the illegal arms and drugs markets. Any bribe, unrecorded transcation, informal price manipulation of assets, and effort to hide assets to evade taxes generates wealth in the economy that the states does not know about, and cannot track. This means that corruption in Pakistan is tied to terrorism financing, and anyone trying to trick the system may be complicit in terrorist activities.
In September 2016, the SBP directed all banks in the country to freeze accounts worth millions of rupees linked to 2,021 individuals listed on the Fourth Schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) 1997. Some prominent names on the list are were Maulvi Abdul Aziz (Lal Masjid), Mohsin Najfi (Shia leader), Maulvi Ahmed Ludhianvi (Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat), Aurang¬zeb Farooqi (ASWJ), Allama Maqsood Domki (Majlis Wahdat-i-Muslimeen), Pariyal Shah (ASWJ), Maulvi Kabir (ASWJ), Sibtain Shirazi (defunct Tehreek-i- Jafria Pakistan), Mirza Ali (defunct TJP), Ramzan Mengal (Lashkar-i-Jhangvi), Sheikh Nayyar (defunct TJP) and Shahid Bikik (Lyari Amn Committee). The list must be maintained and added to. More than half of the listed persons (1,443) were from Punjab, followed by Sindh (226), suggesting that the centre of the country’s economic activity is the centre of extremist activity- another reason to have a security crackdown in Punjab.
The list sent to the banks in 2016 did not include the names of all ‘fourth schedulers’. The complete list may have between 6,500 and 8,000 names, and maybe it is time to consider all the names, even if they do not relate directly to religious extremism, but to corruption and crime.