Pakistan on Sunday denied any acknowledgment on its part of the presence of fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim in the country, and said that any such assertions made by “some sections of Indian media” were “baseless and misleading”. The country’s foreign ministry also denied reports that it had imposed new sanctions on a list of its own terrorists, which was published on August 18.
Ibrahim is among the 88 terrorists listed in a Statutory Regulatory Order by Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This is the first time Pakistan has acknowledged Ibrahim, the mastermind of the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case, as a terrorist.
The order imposed sweeping sanctions, including an assets freeze, arms embargo, and travel ban on the individuals as part of Pakistan’s efforts to avoid being blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force.
However, in a statement on Sunday, Pakistan’s foreign ministry said it had issued the sanctions order on August 18 according to the “information contained in the list entry of UN designated individuals and entities”. “These lists contain names of individuals and entities designated under the two sanction regimes established pursuant to the UN Security Council resolutions,” it said.
“The reports in certain sections of the media about Pakistan imposing new sanctions measures, through these SROs, are not factual,” the statement said. “Similarly, the assertions made by some sections of the Indian media, as to Pakistan admitting to the presence of certain listed individuals on its territory, based on the information contained in the SRO, are baseless and misleading.”
“It is once again reiterated that the information contained in the SRO is reproduced as per the details in the list entry of the individuals/entities designated under the two sanctions regime, which is publically available, and contains names of individuals who despite their confirmed deceased status still continue to be on the sanctions list,” the statement concluded.
Besides Ibrahim, Pakistan’s list also included Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed and a few more Taliban leaders. Mohammad Masood Azhar of Jaish-e-Mohammed, Mullah Fazlullah and Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi are among others who have been named. The order also banned terror organisations, including the LeT, Jaish-e-Mohammad.
The United Nations designated Azhar a global terrorist in May, which came with travel bans, a freeze on assets and an embargo on acquiring arms. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had then termed it a big victory in the fight against terrorism. The Ministry of External Affairs had said it was a step in the right direction “to demonstrate the international community’s resolve to fight against terrorism and its enablers”.
India, which is a member of the Financial Action Task Force, has repeatedly asked Pakistan to take necessary steps to meet international standards in stopping financial crimes. Being on a blacklist of the financial watchdog has the potential to severely cripple and isolate a country financially, which could lead to a downgraded credit rating and denial of loans and developmental assistance. Islamabad’s economy is already struggling with a balance of payment crisis.