24 Oct 2020
FATF KEEPS PAKISTAN ON ‘GREYLIST’ TILL NEXT REVIEW IN FEBRUARY 2021
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on Friday decided to keep Pakistan on the “greylist” till the next review of its compliance to the recommendations in February next year.
“Pakistan has made progress across all action plan items and has now largely addressed 21 of 27 action items. As all action plan deadlines have expired, the FATF strongly urges Pakistan to swiftly complete its full action plan by February 2021,” said an FATF statement issued in Paris at the end of the Plenary session, on the decision to keep Pakistan in the list of "Jurisdictions under increased monitoring" or greylist.
At the FATF Plenary, sources said, Turkey proposed that the members should consider Pakistan’s good work and instead of waiting for completion of the remaining six of the 27 parameters, an FATF on-site team should visit Pakistan to finalise its assessment.
The points on which Pakistan failed to deliver included its lack of action against the charitable organisations or non-profit organisations linked to the terror groups banned by the UN Security Council; and delays in the prosecution of banned individuals and entities like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief Hafiz Saeed and LeT operations chief, Zaki Ur Rahman Lakhvi, as well as Jaish-e- Mohammad chief Masood Azhar.
The FATF has also noted that there were few convictions of terror commanders of UN-designated entities affiliated to the Al Qaeda and the Haqqani network. Pakistan was found non-compliant in cracking down on terror financing through narcotics and smuggling of mining products including precious stones.
ISRAEL AND SUDAN REACH U.S.-BROKERED DEAL TO NORMALIZE TIES
Israel and Sudan agreed on Friday to take steps to normalize relations in a deal brokered with the help of the United States, making Khartoum the third Arab government to set aside hostilities with Israel in the last two months.
U.S. President Donald Trump, seeking re-election on November. 3, sealed the agreement in a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and Transitional Council Head Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, senior U.S. officials said.
Mr. Trump's decision this week to remove Sudan from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism paved the way for the accord with Israel, marking a foreign policy achievement for the Republican president as he seeks a second term trailing in opinion polls behind Democratic rival Joe Biden.
“The leaders agreed to the normalization of relations between Sudan and Israel and to end the state of belligerence between their nations,” according to a joint statement issued by the three countries.
Israel and Sudan plan to begin by opening economic and trade relations, with an initial focus on agriculture, the joint statement said. A senior U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said such issues as formal establishment of diplomatic ties would be resolved later.
Mr. Trump touted the deal to reporters in the Oval Office with the Israeli and Sudanese leaders on the line in a three-way phone call, saying at least five other countries want to follow suit and normalize relations with Israel.
SENATE PANEL APPROVES TRUMP’S SUPREME COURT NOMINEE DESPITE DEMOCRAT BOYCOTT
Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans advanced Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination to the full Senate on Thursday, despite a Democratic boycott.
All 12 Republican members of the panel voted unanimously to advance Barrett’s nomination to the full 100-member Senate, which is expected to make a final decision on Monday.
The 10 Democratic senators on the committee refused to show up in protest of the Republican party’s rush to install Trump’s nominee to replace late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Instead of attending, Democrats displayed posters at their desks of Americans they say have benefited from the Affordable Care Act.
The committee has never before confirmed a Supreme Court nominee so close to a presidential election.
“We did it. Judge Barrett’s nomination is going to the floor,” said Chairman Lindsey Graham, the top Republican on the committee. “This is a groundbreaking, historic moment for the American legal community and really politically.”
Republicans moved forward with the vote despite a committee rule that two members of the minority party — the Democrats — be present in order to conduct business. Graham said it was the Democrats’ “choice” to boycott the vote, but “we’re not going to allow them to take over the committee.”
Unable to stop the vote with a majority, Democratic senators have been taking all possible measures to stop the nomination before the November 3 election. Democrats argue that the winner of the election should be the one to nominate a judge to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court.
With Republicans holding a 53-47 majority in the Senate, Trump’s pick for the court is likely to be confirmed. All Democrats are expected to oppose Barrett’s confirmation.
JAPAN, BRITAIN INK POST-BREXIT FREE TRADE DEAL
Japan and Britain on Friday formally signed a bilateral free trade agreement that is set to kick in when the Brexit transition period — and the UK’s economic relationship with the European Union — comes to an end.
British International Trade Secretary Liz Truss hailed the “landmark” deal as the UK’s first major trade agreement as it once again becomes “an independent trading nation.”
The UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) covers a range of sectors, from food and car parts to textiles and technology. London has said the pact will boost trade with Japan by 15 billion pounds ($19.5 billion; €16.5 billion) annually and make it easier for British companies to do business in Japan.
“How fitting it is to be in the land of the rising sun to welcome in the dawn of a new era of free trade,” Truss told reporters at a signing ceremony alongside Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi in Tokyo.
ON KOREAN WAR ANNIVERSARY, XI SENDS WARNING TO ‘INVADERS’
China’s President Xi Jinping on Friday invoked the memory of the Korean War on its 70th anniversary to send a warning to any “invaders” that “force must be met with force”.
Mr. Xi, speaking at a meeting to mark the anniversary of what China officially calls “the War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid Korea”, said the 1950-53 conflict that saw China intervene on behalf of North Korea served a reminder that China “will never sit back and watch any damage to our national sovereignty” and “will never allow any force to invade or divide the sacred territory of the motherland.”
While the Chinese President did not specifically refer to any of China’s current disputes, Chinese State media have framed the high-profile marking of the anniversary through a number of events in recent days, against the backdrop of deteriorating China-U.S. relations and as sending a message to Washington, even if Mr. Xi’s comments would likely also draw attention in both India and Taiwan amid recent tensions.
“It is necessary to speak to invaders in the language they know, that is, a war must be fought to deter invasion, and force must be met by force,” he was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua news agency. “A victory is needed to win peace and respect.”
He said “the Chinese nation will never cower before threats, or be subdued by suppression” and called for “fostering the valour of the nation that fears no death” and “the need to promote the national wisdom of keeping to the right path, making innovations, and striving to march forward”.
DONALD TRUMP’S REMARK ON ‘FILTHY’ INDIAN AIR SPARKS ROW
Indians have reacted to US president Donald Trump describing the air in India, China and Russia as "filthy" during the final election debate.
His remarks drew both anger and introspection, with some Indians asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take notice.
Others agreed that capital Delhi's air was among the most foul in the world.
In recent weeks, the city's air quality has turned "severe", with residents complaining of breathing difficulties.
India's dreaded pollution season has returned as levels of PM2.5 - dangerous tiny pollutants in the air - in the capital have averaged around 180-300 micrograms per cubic metre in recent weeks, 12 times higher than the WHO's safe limits.
NEPAL MAP ROW | PM OLI HINTS AT SOFTER STAND WITH DASARA GREETINGS
After months of simmering dispute with India over the Kalapani issue, Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli indicated a softer line on Friday when he used an old map of Nepal to greet everyone on the festival of Vijaya Dashami. The old map does not show the region of Kalapani-Lipulekh-Limpiyadhura, which is part of India’s Pithoragarh district.
The triangular piece of land is, however, shown as part of Nepalese sovereign territory in the new map, which was unveiled on May 20, and made part of the insignia of the Nepalese state by an amendment on June 13.
Prime Minister Oli’s use of the national insignia of Nepal carrying the old map has drawn strong reactions from the political class of Kathmandu, with leaders expressing surprise about the use of the old map during Dasara, which is the biggest festival in the Himalayan country.
Use of the old map also drew sharp reactions on social media, with Nepalese users connecting the move with Thursday’s discussion between Mr. Oli and Samant Kumar Goel, chief of the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), the external intelligence wing of India.
Nepalese publication Myrepublica reported that Mr. Goel led a nine-member delegation. The visit drew attention as it came a fortnight before the scheduled visit to Nepal of General Manoj Mukund Naravane, chief of the Indian Army.