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Bank Alfalah is not blocking donations for Palestine

A viral post on X falsely claims the government has instructed all banks to stop accepting donations for Palestine

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Claim: The Pakistani government has asked all banks to stop accepting donations for Palestine. A leaked internal memo from Bank Alfalah is being used to claim that the bank does not accept donations for the account of the Palestinian government. 

Fact: The Pakistani government has not asked banks to stop accepting donations for Palestine. Donations for humanitarian relief to Gaza are being collected through Bank Alfalah and other banks.

On 8 November 2023, journalist Waqas Ahmed posted an image on X (archive) of a circular from Bank Alfalah. The circular, dated 7 November 2023, stated that all Bank Alfalah branches are advised not to accept any donation funds “in favour of” The Embassy of the State of Palestine. Ahmed wrote in his caption, “Meanwhile, the Pakistani government has asked all banks to stop accepting donations for Palestine. Here is one circular from Bank Alfalah.”

The memo, dated 7 November 2023, instructed all Bank Alfalah branches (conventional and Islamic banking) not to accept any donation funds in favour of the account of the embassy of the state of Palestine. The memo also mentioned the account numbers and titles of the embassy.

Fact or Fiction?

The claim that the Pakistani government has asked all banks to stop accepting donations for Palestine was based on a misunderstanding of an internal memo, and it is false. 

On 9 November 2023, Bank Alfalah issued a clarification, stating that the circular was internal communication that was not meant to be shared publicly, and that “Bank Alfalah Limited remains committed to enabling donations from people in Pakistan in accordance with the law to appropriate and authorised accounts that are designated for the purpose of donations.”

According to this clarification, the operational accounts of embassies are legally restricted from receiving donations, but donations can be sent to specific bank accounts created for the purpose of collecting them. 

Soch Fact Check spoke to the Counter Service Manager from Bank Alfalah Civil Lines branch Mohammad Amin, who further explained that only in special circumstances can embassies put in a request for a deposit and that donations in general are usually only accepted through authorised NGO accounts. 

The purpose of the memo was not to say that donations for Palestine are banned, but only that the operational accounts of the Embassy of the State of Palestine are not allowed to receive these donations as per the law. Donations for Palestine can still be made to donation accounts, which are authorised for the purpose.

To understand this further, Soch Fact Check spoke to Karim Jindani, CEO of Paysys Labs. Paysys Labs is a privately owned, digital financial services company formed in 2016. Over the past four years, they have delivered turnkey projects for B2B clients, which have enabled millions of customers to digitally interact with their accounts and wallets. The fintech company specialises in payment system consulting and implementation support, which is closely linked to the question at hand.

He told us that the State Bank of Pakistan has issued specific AML [anti-money laundering] and CFT [counter-terrorism financing] regulations on how to collect donations, adding that “Banks and DFIs need to establish the status of the receiver as an NGO or NPO, their bank accounts should be registered in their names, and only these designated and approved accounts are authorised to receive donations.” 

Soch Fact Check also spoke to a representative of the Al-Khidmat Foundation, who confirmed that they are receiving donations for Palestine through Bank Alfalah and other banks as per normal, adding that the foundation is working to ensure that the donations reach Gaza.

Virality

The claim that the Pakistani government has asked all banks to stop accepting donations for Palestine was widely shared on social media. Waqas Ahmed’s tweet received more than 367,000 views, 3,800 likes and 3,100 reposts. 

Additionally, the claim was shared on the news website, Siasat.pk, as well as on social media platforms such as, X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, and Reddit where it was viewed thousands of times. 

Conclusion:  The Pakistani government has not asked all banks to stop accepting donations for Palestine. The circular from Bank Alfalah instructs all its branches to stop receiving donations in favour of The Embassy of the State of Palestine, as the operational accounts of embassies are legally restricted from receiving donations as per the law. Donations for Palestine can still be made to specific accounts designated for that purpose. 

Background image in cover photo:  X (formerly, Twitter) 

To appeal against our fact-check, please send an email to appeals@sochfactcheck.com 

 

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