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Pakistan averts financial watchlist over militancy funding

© AFP/File | Hafiz Saeed is a prime suspect in the 2008 Mumbai attacks

ISLAMABAD (AFP) - 

Pakistan has narrowly avoided being targeted by a global watchdog over terrorism financing, the foreign minister said, after reports that the US had supported a motion to place its ally on the group's watchlist.

Pakistan was granted a three-month reprieve by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), according to a tweet late Tuesday by Khawaja Asif, after a meeting in Paris failed to reach agreement on the matter.

"No consensus for nominating Pakistan," Asif wrote, adding that the forum instead proposed a three-month pause along with the submission of an unspecified new report to the body.

"Grateful to friends who helped," he added.

The reprieve comes a week after Pakistan quietly amended its anti-terror laws to ban groups listed as terrorists by the United Nations.

Following the move, officials began seizing assets from Jamaat-ud-Dawa, whose leader Hafiz Saeed is a prime suspect in the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Reports claimed earlier this month that the US had tabled the motion to add Pakistan to the FATF watchlist as ties fray over US accusations that Islamabad is providing safe haven to militants.

The move rattled officials and businesses across Pakistan, who fear any type of financial restrictions could crimp the country's economic prospects.

Relations between Pakistan and the US have been tense since President Donald Trump lashed out at the country last August, upbraiding Islamabad for sheltering "agents of chaos".

In January Trump ordered the suspension of US military aid to Pakistan, saying it was not doing enough to target the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani guerrilla group.

Pakistan had been on the FATF watchlist for years but was removed in 2015 following "significant progress" in meeting the demands of the group.

In 2015 Pakistan's parliament approved amendments to an anti-money laundering law to make it more effective in targeting the financing of extremists and bring it into line with global standards.

FATF is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 to help combat money-laundering and financing for extremists.

© 2018 AFP