Pakistan's FATF Drama

In a recent FATF meet to decide Pakistan’s fate, the FATF decided to keep Pakistan on the Greylist. However, if Pakistan is not added back to the whitelist until April 2020, it will by default end up in the Blacklist.

Crux of the Matter

What is FATF Blacklisting?
Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an inter-governmental body that sets legal, operational, and regulatory, standards and norms to combat terror financing, money laundering, and other associated threats to maintain the integrity of the global financial system. Established in 1989 by G7 members and few other member nations, FATF provides policy suggestions for fighting the crimes mentioned above and the proliferation of mass-destruction weapons.

Countries that do not adhere to the standards and norms set by FATF are issued sanctions and are put on Blacklist. Blacklist includes countries that do not comply with the set norms and support money laundering activities, terror financing and other such activities. These countries are called Non-Cooperative Countries or Territories (NCCTs). Currently, North Korea and Iran are on FATF Blacklist.

Greylist countries are those that are a growing threat to international financial security because of the ongoing terror financing and money laundering activities. Greylisting is a warning. A country that fails to put curbs on the mentioned activities, is shifted to Blacklist.

A Greylisted country might face these restrictions:

  • Economic sanctions from supranational bodies like World Bank, International Monetary Fund, etc.
  • Loan curbs from supranational bodies.
  • Trade curbs by FATF member nations and other nations.
  • General international curb.

Why Pakistan?
In June 2018, FATF put Pakistan on the Greylist and asked it to strengthen its structural and regulatory environment to properly identify, assess, and combat Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Combating Financing of Terrorism (CFT). FATF presented Pakistan with a 27 point Action Plan, the covering or compliance of which before October 2019 would decrease chances of Pakistan being added in the Blacklist. As of mid-2019, Pakistan did not comply with 25 of 27 action points that included regulatory and legal action against terrorist group leaders, money laundering, and terror financing.

This is not the first time Pakistan is under Greylist. In 2008 and from 2012-15, Pakistan was on the Greylist. In the current greylist period, Pakistan might face the risk of downgrading its credit score by international agencies like Moody’s and Fitch. FATF member nations and other world nations might impose a trade restriction on Pakistan. Economic sanctions could be placed by the World Bank, IMF, etc.

After Pakistan failed to comply with the October 2019 deadline, it was given an extension of another 4 months after which in a FATF meet at Paris, Pakistan’s fate was decided. In the FATF meet in Paris, the organization noted that Pakistan has made progress on 14 of the 27 action plans. Paksitan had sentenced LeT leader Hafiz Saeed a few days before the FATF meeting. With the vote of countries like Malaysia and Turkey, Pakistan saved itself from going to the Blacklist. However, if Pakistan is not added back to the Whitelist before April 2020, it would automatically be blacklisted.

Geopolitical Game
India has been staunch on blacklisting Pakistan after the Pulwama and Balakot attacks. India has alleged Pakistan of financing terrorist groups like Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), and Hizbul Mujahideen (HM). US has been putting a lot of pressure on Pakistan as part of US’s agenda to curb terrorism.

China, which is also the chair of the FATF, had always backed Pakistan in FATF. However, China along with Saudi Arabia seems to have aligned with US, European Union, and India to put a leash on Pakistan’s money laundering and terror financing activiti4s.

Curiopedia

Lashkar-e-Taiba, literally Army of the Good, is one of the largest and most active Islamist terrorist organizations in South Asia, operating mainly from Pakistan. It was founded in 1987 by Hafiz Saeed, Abdullah Azzam and Zafar Iqbal with funding from Osama bin Laden. Its headquarters are in Muridke, near Lahore in Punjab province of Pakistan, and the group operates several training camps in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Lashkar-e-Taiba has been accused by India of attacking military and civilian targets in India, most notably the 2001 Indian Parliament attack, the 2008 Mumbai attacks and the 2019 Pulwama attack on Armed Forces. Its stated objective is to introduce an Islamic state in South Asia and to “liberate” Muslims residing in Indian Kashmir. More Info

Jaish-e-Mohammed, literally “The Army of Muhammad”, is a Pakistan-based Deobandi jihadist Islamic Jihadis group active in Kashmir. The group’s primary motive is to separate Kashmir from India and merge it into Pakistan. Since its inception in 2000, the terror outfit has carried out several attacks in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It projects Kashmir as a “gateway” to the entire India, whose Muslims are also deemed to be in need of liberation. After liberating Kashmir, it aims to carry its ‘jihad’ to other parts of India, with an intent to drive Hindus and other non-Muslims from the Indian subcontinent. It has carried out several attacks primarily in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It also maintained close relations with Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and continues to be allied with these groups. Scholars state that JeM was created with the support of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), which uses it to fight in Kashmir and other places, and continues to provide it backing. The JeM has been banned in Pakistan since 2002, but resurfaced under other names. More Info

Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, meaning “Party of Holy Warriors” is a pro-Pakistani militant organization that is active in the regions of Jammu and Kashmir and seeks for the integration of Jammu and Kashmir with Pakistan. Founded by Muhammad Ahsan Dar in September 1989 with support of ISI, it is considered as one of the most important players that evolved the narrative of Kashmiri conflict from nationalism to the religious lines of jihad and is widely deemed as the military wing of Jamaat-e-Islami. Its headquarters are located at Muzaffarabad in Azad Kashmir and a liaison office is maintained at Islamabad, capital of Pakistan. The group has been designated as a terrorist group by India, the European Union, and the United States. It continues to operate within Pakistan. More Info

The age of quantum memories begins: Entanglement implemented via fibres

quantum memories

Chinese Scientists have managed to get two quantum memories stored in atoms, entangled over 50 kilometres which is 31 miles of fibre optic cables. This number is a shocker as it is almost 40 times the previous record. This feat is a step towards developing that long-distance ground-based quantum network. The research has been published in the reputed Science JournalNature‘.

Crux of the Matter

The New Age Communication
Quantum communication relies on quantum entanglement, or what Einstein called ‘spooky action at a distance‘: where two particles become inextricably linked and reliant on each other, even if they’re not in the same place. Quantum memory or qubit is the quantum equivalent of classical computing memory which is the ability to store quantum information and keep it for a later time. Future technologies such as a quantum internet are based on the physics of entanglement.

The Science Behind It
Qubit, like Schrodinger’s cat, can be two states (0 and 1) at the same time or somewhere in between. They can be encoded and sent on things like particles of light (photons) and stored on atoms. Sending quantum information over enormous distances via optic fibre networks is extremely challenging. Traditional networks use amplifiers at regular points to boosts the signal, but qubits can’t be copied so particles get scattered and lost. Thus developing an efficient atom-photon entanglement source became suitable for low-loss transmission in fibres.

The Significance of the Paper
Jian-Wei Pan, of the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC), was quoted as saying “The importance of these findings lie in extending the entangling distance in optical fibre between quantum memories to the city scale“. The ability to manipulate the spin, position and momentum of two particles would now make the storage time of memories sufficiently long. Thus quantum repeaters can then distribute memory in a more controlled way and enable synchronised networks for the photon-atom entanglement systems.

Curiopedia

Quantum memory in computing is the quantum-mechanical version of ordinary computer memory. Whereas ordinary memory stores information as “1”s and “0”s, quantum memory stores a quantum state for later retrieval. These states hold useful computational information known as qubits. Unlike the classical memory of everyday computers, the states stored in quantum memory can be in a quantum superposition, giving much more practical flexibility in quantum algorithms than classical information storage. It is essential for the development of many devices in quantum information processing, including a synchronization tool that can match the various processes in a quantum computer, a quantum gate that maintains the identity of any state, and a mechanism for converting predetermined photons into on-demand photons. Continuous research and experiments have enabled quantum memory to realize the storage of qubits. More Info

B.R Shetty's NMC Healthcare lands in troublesome Muddy Waters Report

Carson Block’s investment firm, Muddy Waters issued a report criticising NMC Healthcare’s accounts and disclosed a short position of Indian origin billionaire businessman Bavaguthu Raghuram Shetty who is the founder of NMC Healthcare and Finablr.

Crux of the Matter

B.R Shetty, once a typical jet-setting, cash-blowing billionaire with private jets, vintage cars and condos in Burj Khalifa, resigned as NMC’s chairman on February 16. On December 10, his stocks were valued at $2.4bn but only a week later Carson Block came along with the damning report. Muddy Waters’ report brought forward the firms’ complex share arrangements which cast doubts on Shetty’s net worth.

BRS Ventures Investment which holds most of Shetty’s assets does not report consolidated financials, preventing a complete analysis of his net worth. Shetty’s holdings in Finablr and NMC are worth $885mn, but it now might be reduced to just a fraction of that depending on his borrowings.

Muddy Waters report hints at potential overpayment for assets, inflated cash balances and understated debt. On Shetty’s request, the law firm Herbert Smith Freehills launched a review of Shetty’s holdings.

According to Shetty’s filings of this month revealed that he had pledged a quarter of his NMC stake against loans with First Abu Dhabi Bank and Zurich-based Falcon Private Bank. Also, two other shareholders may own half his stake. Another lender Al Salam Bank Bahrain already sold some of the shares to enforce security over a loan and on February 18 NMC said that First Abu Dhabi Bank sold another chunk earlier this month.

Complicating the matter, Shetty pledged a batch of NMC stock in 2018 as part of an equity collar arrangement with Goldman Sachs that uses options to limit the effect from share moves. In January 2020 he also pledged most of his stake in Finablr to refinance a loan from the company’s takeover of foreign-exchange firm Travelex for about $1.2bn.

I didn’t anticipate NMC’s shareholding drama. I wouldn’t have been able to predict that we’d get these bizarre disclosures about unclear share ownership coming out of the company.

– Carson Block

NMC disputing claims made by Muddy Waters, have hired former FBI director Louis Freeh to conduct an independent review of the short-sellers allegations. Shetty’s other assets which include a catering company, a waste-management firm and pharmaceutical business Neopharma were in the early stages of planning for an initial public offering (IPO).

Curiopedia

Bavaguthu Raghuram Shetty is an Indian-born billionaire businessman and the founder of a number of companies like Finablr and BRS Ventures based in the United Arab Emirates. He is founder and chairman of Abu Dhabi-based NMC Healthcare, and chairman of UAE Exchange. He immigrated to the UAE in 1973. After working as the country’s first medical representative, he founded New Medical Centre Health (NMC) in 1975 to fill the need for personalized, cost-effective healthcare accessible to all. NMC is now the largest private healthcare provider in the UAE with over four million patients annually across 45 facilities spread over 12 cities and 8 countries. More Info

Carson Block is a short-seller and the founder of Muddy Waters Research. Block is known for documenting and alleging fraudulent accounting practices in publicly traded Chinese companies. He holds a law degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law. In 2011, he was ranked as a 50 Most Influential Thinker by Bloomberg Markets. More Info

Muddy Waters Research LLC is a privately held due diligence based investment firm that conducts investigative research on public companies while also taking investment positions that reflect their research. The firm has exposed accounting problems and fraud at several companies, primarily in China but also in other countries in Asia, Europe and North America. The firm is best known for spotting fraud at Sino-Forest Corp, a Canadian-listed Chinese company whose stock fell 74% before it eventually filed for bankruptcy protection in March 2012. In January 2015, the firm raised an initial $100 million for its investment strategy. More Info

India to be in league of nations using cleanest petrol and diesel

From April 1, 2020, India will shift its petrol and diesel quality from euro 4 to the cleanest one i.e. euro 5 standard. It will contain just 10 parts per million of sulfur, emission of which would result in less pollution.

Crux of the Matter

India has switched its fuel-grade from euro 4 equivalent, Bharat Standard (BS 4) to euro 5 within the period of only 3 years. No other country has been able to make fuel quality up-gradation this quick. In past India took seven years to upgrade its fuel quality from euro 3 i.e fuel with 350 ppm of sulfur to euro 4 i.e. fuel with 50 ppm.

To meet the demand of ultra-low sulfur petrol and diesel, state-owned refineries spent a sum of Rs 35,000 crores to upgrade its plants. In the latest upgrade, the amount of investment was around Rs. 60,000 crores. The amount of benzene present in petrol has been also reduced from 5% in 2000 to 1% in 2020.

We are absolutely on track for supplying BS-VI fuel from April 1. Almost all refineries have begun supplying BS-VI fuel and the same has reached storage depots across the country.

– Sanjiv Singh, IOC Chairman

Oil companies have already started the supply of euro 5 standard fuel from 2018 in Delhi and from 2019 in four districts of Rajasthan as well as seven districts of Haryana, due to high levels of pollutions. Oil Corporation has also started producing euro 5 fuel from the end of 2019 and from storage depots, it will be supplied across the whole nation from April 1, 2020. Mr. Sanjiv further added, “We are 100 percent confident that fuel that will flow from nozzles at all the petrol pumps in the country on April 1 will be BS-VI emission compliant fuel.”

Curiopedia

Bharat stage emission standards – Bharat stage emission standards (BSES) are emission standards instituted by the Government of India to regulate the output of air pollutants from internal combustion engines and Spark-ignition engines equipment, including motor vehicles. The standards and the timeline for implementation are set by the Central Pollution Control Board under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. More Info.

Former Top Cop Reveals Disturbing 26/11 Conspiracy

Former Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria‘s book titled ‘Let Me Say It Now’ has made a stunning disclosure that the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) had planned to project the 26/11 Mumbai attack as a case of ‘Hindu terrorism’.

Crux of the Matter

The Book Says…
According to the book, if the 26/11 Mumbai attack convict Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab would not have been caught alive he would have died as a Bengaluru resident Samir Dinesh Chaudhari with a ‘red thread tied around his wrist’ portraying his Hindu identity according to the plan. A picture of Kasab hints at the red thread on his hand.

It was reported that the terrorists were provided with fake ID cards of Arunodaya College in Hyderabad and a similar one by the name ‘Samir Dinesh Chaudhari‘ was planned for Ajmal Kasab too.

There would have been screaming headlines on newspapers claiming how Hindu terrorists had attacked Mumbai. Over the top, TV journalists would have made a beeline for Bengaluru to interview his family and neighbors.

– Rakesh Maria in his book

Through the investigation, it was revealed that Ajmal Amir Kasab belonged to Faridkot in Pakistan and originally the terror attack on Mumbai was planned on the 27th day of Roza i.e. September 27, 2008.

Kasab’s Allegory of Cave
The former commissioner’s daily personal interrogation gave a deep insight into the psyche of how terrorist outfits operated. He says, “Our daily interactions forged some sort of a bond between Kasab and me, and soon Kasab began addressing me respectfully as ‘Janab‘ (sir).” 

In the interrogations, Kasab revealed that he had initially joined LeT for committing robberies and had nothing to do with jihad. After three rounds of training in Pakistan, he was given Rs 1,25,000 and a week-long family visit where he gave the money to his family for his sister’s wedding.

Kasab had a belief that Muslims were not allowed to offer namaaz in India, and mosques were locked up by the authorities. He had assumed that the azaan he heard five times a day in the crime branch lockup was his imagination.

The police officer Ramesh Mahale says that Kasab was bewildered when he saw the namaaz in progress when he took him to a mosque near Metro Cinema to clear his doubts.

The book also describes how Rakesh Maria made Kasab say ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ twice. Rakesh Maria revealed that keeping Kasab alive was his first priority. He writes that “Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Lashkar were upon eliminating him by hook or crook to obliterate the only living evidence of their heinous deed.”

The Dawood Ibrahim gang was given the responsibility to kill Kasab and thus fearing the security, Mumbai police had tried hard to not disclose any details in the media.

Political Twist
The disclosure has now taken a political turn wherein Union Minister Piyush Goyal has accused the Congress of plotting a conspiracy to project Hindu terror.

Why is Maria speaking now? As police chief, he should have spoken then and taken action. We condemn the Congress and P Chidambaram for trying to spin a web of lies. Terrorists have no religion.

– Union Minister Piyush Goyal

In 2010, Congress leader Digvijay Singh had linked the killing of Maharashtra ATS chief Hemant Karkare during the 26/11 terror attacks to the alleged threats Karkare had received from Hindu extremists while he had released a book “26/11 RSS Ki Saazish?” in Mumbai. He also had fiercely attacked radical Hindu groups and mainly RSS for what he termed as ‘majority terrorism’. It is to be noted that the book release featured Bollywood Director Mahesh Bhatt whose son Rahul Bhatt was good friends with LeT operative David Headley.

Curiopedia

Rakesh Maria I.P.S is the former Director-General of Home Guards and former Commissioner of Police, Mumbai. He belongs to the 1981 batch of the IPS. His first posting was as assistant superintendent of police in Akola, and then Buldhana. He came to Mumbai in 1986. As the Deputy Commissioner Police (Traffic) in 1993, he cracked the Bombay serial blasts case. He also cracked the 2003 Gateway of India and Zaveri Bazaar twin blasts case and was given the responsibility of investigating the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. He was appointed as the Commissioner of Mumbai Police on 15 February 2014 and retired on 31 January 2017 after 36 years of distinguished service. More Info

Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab was a Pakistani militant and a member of the Lashkar-e-Taiba Islamist militant organisation, through which he took part in the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks. He was the only attacker captured alive by police who had killed 72 people during the attacks. Kasab was found guilty of 80 offences, including murder, waging war against India, possessing explosives, and other charges. The court sentenced him to death on four counts and to a life sentence on five counts and Kasab was hanged on 21 November 2012 at 7:30 am and buried at Pune’s Yerwada Jail. More Info

Lashkar-e-Taiba is one of the largest and most active Islamist terrorist organizations operating mainly from Pakistan. The group operates several training camps in Pakistan occupied Kashmir. The group is responsible most notably for the 2001 Indian Parliament attack, the 2008 Mumbai attacks and the 2019 Pulwama attack. Its states its objective to introduce an Islamic state in South Asia and to ‘liberate’ Muslims residing in Indian Kashmir. The organization is banned as a terrorist organization by India, USA, UK, EU, Russia, Australia, and the United Nations. More Info