The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global money laundering and terror-financing watchdog, will hold its next plenary session virtually from October 21-23. At these plenary sessions the various countries that are on the FATF’s ‘Black’ and ‘Grey’ lists come up for review. Currently there are 2 countries, North Korea and Iran, on the agency’s Black list and 16 countries including Pakistan on the grey or increased monitoring list.
On September 2, the trial of the January 2015 terror attack at the Charlie Hebdo office and the Hyper Cacher of Porte de Bagnolet in Paris commenced at the Paris Criminal Court. The same day, the Charlie Hebdo magazine re-printed the cartoons of Prophet Muhammad that had made those who worked in the magazine target of lslamist terrorists. When questioned during his visit to Lebanon, French President Emmanuel Macron said he would not intervene against the reprint of these cartoons, as the press in France enjoys freedom of expression and even the freedom to blaspheme. While Mr. Macron’s statement was well received in France and in most countries around the world, it sparked strong opposition in some countries in the Muslim world.
Tucked away in a small by-lane in Changklan Road in Thailand’s northern city of Chiang Mai is a nondescript restaurant called ‘Al Hussein’ that sells the typical Indian fare of naan bread and curry. The restaurant generally does brisk business, being located at the Anusarn Night Market with many hotels in its vicinity. The owner of the restaurant is one Baqar Shah, a Pakistani national. Married to a Thai woman for nearly 12 years, Shah is known to have good connections in the local government, immigration, customs and airlines. To an ordinary visitor, all looks normal when you visit the restaurant. However, not many, till recently, knew of Baqar Shah’s links with a fake passport racket, money laundering or the Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).
A recent US Department of Defense report submitted to the United States Congress concludes that though the US and Taliban representatives signed an agreement on February 29 as a move to end the conflict in Afghanistan, a number of subsequent events has raised questions over whether the peace process would take place.
The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the flagship project of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was launched nearly 5 years ago with much fanfare. However, over the last few years, the progress of the CPEC has been hampered by questions on the economic viability of these protests for Pakistan, China’s increasingly intrusive presence in the country and huge environmental concerns.
On April 23, the body of Sajid Hussain Baloch, a Pakistani national, who had been given asylum in Sweden since 2017, was found in the Fyris River, outside Uppsala. According to the Swedish police, Sajid Hussain had been last seen on March 2 boarding a train in Stockholm for Uppsala. He had been missing for nearly 2 months, and a missing report was filed with the Swedish police on March 3.
Afghanistan suffered two deadly suicide attacks on May 12. The first one hit the Dasht-e-Barchi maternity hospital run by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Kabul that killed at least 14, including 2 new born babies and the other was at a funeral of a local police commander in Khewa district of Nangarhar, killing 24. Both attacks were aimed at innocent civilians majority of who were women and children.