ISLAMABAD: The federal government has formed a six-member ministerial committee to coordinate and oversee a crackdown against elements involved in money laundering, terror financing and capital flight from Pakistan as part of the commitments made with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Finance Minister Asad Umar and State Minister for Interior Shehryar Khan Afridi are leading the committee, which also includes Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Minister for Defence Pervez Khattak, Minister for Law Dr Farogh Nasim and Advisor to PM on Commerce Abdul Razzak Dawood. Prime Minister Imran Khan will be personally monitoring the entire exercise.The constitution of the ministerial committee is in line with the government’s strategy to tackle the money laundering and terror financing issues from a single platform through coordinated actions, in contrast with the previous regimes when the FATF team had to shuttle between several ministries, an official familiar with the development told Daily Times. “Zero tolerance will be observed against money laundering, terror financing and capital flight from the country,” he said, adding that Pakistan will soon become a role model for the rest of the countries that are part of the FATF regime. “Actions are being taken to block terror financing and all illegal channels of currency smuggling are also being closely monitored,” the official said, adding that for the first time, Pakistan Army is also on board and all the steps are being taken in coordination with the armed forces. “The intelligence agencies have already named their representatives to take part in the effort and the process of launching targeted actions has already started,” he said, adding that the actions being taken are multipronged and multidimensional.The official said the Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) is playing lead role in the monitoring process while the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has been asked to ensure end to capital flight through monitoring of banking and financial channels. The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) is leading operations against hawala and hundi. FIA Director General Bashir Memon is supervising these operations. The official said a major source of capital flight from Pakistan is the Afghan Transit Trade. “Pakistan is all set to take up the matter with Afghan authorities as Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi will be discussing it during his upcoming visit to Kabul on December 16,” the official said. “Traditionally, the illegal cash flight from Pakistan takes place through land, air and sea routes. Since the fencing on Pak-Afghan border has entered its final stage, the movement of cash through land route has almost become a remote possibility,” he said.“We have also blocked possibility of currency smuggling through sea and air routes. Pakistan Customs, Coast Guards, Maritime Security and Naval Intelligence have been directed to ensure that no attempt to smuggle currency through sea routes succeeds,” the official said. For the air routes, the FIA is in lead role along with other agencies to check any illegal cash movement, he said. “We have also directed the FIA, FC and other paramilitary forces to help block all smuggling routes,” he added.Asked whether the government will introduce new laws to ensure extraordinary measures to help meet the FATF standards, the official said all relevant laws already existed and that there was no need for any new legislation. “Under the UN resolutions, Pakistan is bound to take all necessary steps and actions in this regard,” he said, adding that there was no need for the previous government to promulgate an ordinance in this regard.Published in Daily Times, December 15th 2018.