European experts express concern over terror financing in South Asia

Geneva: European experts on Tuesday expressed concern over terror financing by state and non-state actors in South Asia, especially from Pakistan, and its global consequences.

The experts were speaking at a seminar titled “Terrorism Financing in South Asia” organised by the European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS) on the sidelines of the United Nations 42nd Session of Human Rights Council here.

Paul Stott, a research fellow at Henry Jackson Society, laid emphasis on how money is flowing from South Asia, particularly Pakistan, to Europe and then used for terrorist activities in India.

He said Pakistan may face blacklisting from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) — a global watchdog of terror financing — if it fails to take action against terrorist outfits based in its territory.

Stott said, “Pakistan has had a real problem on this issue and it was always going to be one of the challenges Imran Khan would face. It’s a question for international authorities, I think, to try and deal with Pakistan. So, I think, it probably does need to move from grey list to the blacklist.”

He said, “There is a list of terrorist actors on Pakistani territory who really do need to be prosecuted properly and Pakistan owes to India for trial. And that can’t come soon enough really but it is for countries dealing with Pakistan in the international arena and indeed for big NGOs like the United Nations. We do need action now.”

Malaiz Daud, former Chief of Staff of Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani and a scholar of Berghof Foundation, said, “The insurgency would not be at the level it is without terrorism financing. Right from the onset of insurgency, you have the Taliban, who are basically madrasa students and these madrasas have financial support not only from the Gulf states but also collect small donations.”

He remarked, “From there it started, and now, they are involved in criminal activities and all their operations are funded. They carry out spectacular attacks not only in cities but frontier wars in rural areas.”
Daud added, “They call themselves as strategic assets of Pakistan. Pakistan is the main sponsor of terrorist activities in Afghanistan.”

Other experts in the panel, Dorothee Vandamme of the University of Louvain and Mathew Garrod from the University of Sussex, also termed terror financing from South Asia as a major concern for security and peace in the region.