ISLAMABAD - As a part of the implementation on National Action Plan (NAP) on counter terrorism, the federal government has directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to launch an immediate crackdown on illegal business of Hawala/Hundi, besides keeping a strict watch over suspicious money transactions to stop terrorism funding in the country.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan gave these directions to the Director General (DG) FIA during a meeting that was held to review the performance of agency.

FIA has been directed to work in close liaison with the financial monitoring unit (FMU) of the State Bank of Pakistan to take quick action on suspicious money transactions (STRs). The FMU recently had told the Senate standing committee on finance that it had sent 34 cases of intelligence-based terrorism financing to the various investigation agencies during the last some years.

The meeting also discussed FIA’s new initiatives, its vision for future and its set targets in the current year. Under the recently formulated NAP on counter terrorism, the minister stressed, FIA in collaboration with financial monitoring unit (FMU) of ministry of finance have been tasked to perform a lead role in tracking all suspicious and illegal transactions to curb the menace of terror-financing.

According to a performance report of FIA, the agency as part of its financial monitoring mechanism since announcement of NAP, has detected 18 cases of Hawala/Hundi in which 24 accused were arrested and an amount of Rs71.5 million was recovered. Similarly, three cases of suspicious transaction and five cases of anti-money laundering were detected in which eight accused were apprehended.

Moreover, last year FIA registered 88 cases under Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) and 270 accused were arrested whereas 998 cases of electricity and gas theft were registered in which 234 accused were arrested.

The chair stressed that in the current security scenario, cyber space was being used increasingly by criminal and terrorist elements to their advantage for which an appropriate response was needed from FIA immediately.

Briefing the minister on the issue, DG FIA said since Jan 2014, 305 cases of cyber crimes were dealt and illegal VoIP equipment worth Rs83.68 million were seized while 270 people arrested.

The minister was further informed that FIA on the directions of ministry of interior on the issue of spurious drugs since Jan 2014, conducted 27 raids across the country apprehending 20 accused, besides confiscating spurious drugs amounting to tens of thousands of rupees.

The chair observed that there had been complaints of hassle by the public during immigration at the airports for which a mechanized system should be evolved to fully facilitate the travelers. A system of snap checking should be established to identify and punish those officials causing unnecessary delays to the public. The minister was informed that an efficient complaint management system was being launched at major airports of the country under which public would be able to register their complaints through SMS to the FIA high-ups. He was further informed that in compliance with his earlier directions, the agency had cleared a backlog of around 1,500 pending cases relating to previous years.

DG FIA further informed the minister that various wings of the investigation agency in the financial year 2013-14 had recovered an amount of Rs6 billion under various heads which was an exponential increase as compared to the corresponding period of 2012-13, during which only Rs340 million were recovered.

The minister emphasised that an efficient performance-based system should be launched in FIA and urgent steps should be adopted for digitalising its processes and enquiries.

“In this regard, Nadra will provide all assistance regarding equipment and training to establish a digital monitoring system within FIA for which immediate steps be taken,” Ch Nisar directed.

The interior minister directed that FIA should be transformed into a robust department performing its role as country’s premiere investigative agency for which there was a need to utilise every single resource in order to bring about a discernable change in its performance. Secretary Interior, DG FIA, National Coordinator NACTA, various additional DGs and directors of FIA from all over the country attended the meeting, besides high-ranking Nadra officials.