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Pakistan sanctions Taliban to avoid global finance blacklist

FILE- In this Feb. 29, 2020, file, photo, Afghanistan’s Taliban delegation arrive for the agreement signing between Taliban and U.S. officials in Doha, Qatar. Taliban officials said Friday, July 17, 2020 that the son of the movement’s feared founder has been put in charge of its military wing and added powerful figures to its negotiating team ahead of expected talks aimed at ending Afghanistan’s decades of war, The moves mark one of the most significant shake-ups in years. (Hussein Sayed, File/Associated Press)

By KATHY GANNON,ISLAMABAD AP:- Pakistan issued sweeping financial sanctions against Afghanistan’s Taliban, just as the militant group is in the midst of the U.S.-led peace process in the neighboring country.

The orders, which were made public late on Friday, identified dozens of individuals, including the Taliban’s chief peace negotiator Abdul Ghani Baradar and several members of the Haqqani family, including Sirajuddin, the current head of the Haqqani network and deputy head of the Taliban. The list of sanctioned groups included others besides the Taliban and was in keeping with a five-year-old United Nations resolution sanctioning the Afghan group and freezing their assets. The orders were issued as part of Pakistan’s efforts to avoid being blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which monitors money laundering and tracks terrorist groups’ activities, according to security officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. Last year the Paris-based group put Islamabad on a grey list. Until now only Iran and North Korea are blacklisted, which severely restricts a country’s international borrowing capabilities. Pakistan is trying to get off the grey list, said the officials.

There was no immediate response from the Taliban, but many of the group’s leaders are known to own businesses and property in Pakistan. Many Taliban leaders, including those heading the much-feared Haqqani network, have lived in Pakistan since the 1980s when they were part of the Afghan mujahedeen and allies of the United States to end the 10-year invasion of Afghanistan by the former Soviet Union. It ended in February 1989. Pakistan has denied giving sanctuary to the Taliban following their ouster in 2001 by the U.S.-led coalition but both Washington and Kabul routinely accused Islamabad of giving them a safe haven. Still, it was Pakistan’s relationship with the Taliban that Washington eventually sought to exploit to move its peace negotiations with the insurgent movement forward. America signed a peace deal with the Taliban on Feb. 29.

The deal is intended to end Washington’s nearly 20 years of military engagement in Afghanistan and has been touted as Afghanistan’s best hope for peace after more than four decades of war. But even as Washington has already begun withdrawing its soldiers, efforts to get talks started between Kabul’s political leadership and the Taliban have been stymied by delays in a prisoner release program.

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