Pakistan given 3-month reprieve over terrorist financing watchlist, says Foreign Minister

Pakistan has been scrambling in recent months to avoid being added to a list of countries deemed non-compliant with anti-money laundering and terrorist financing regulations by the Financial Action Task Force, a measure that officials fear could hurt its economy.

Updated - February 21, 2018 10:31 pm IST

Published - February 21, 2018 06:35 pm IST - ISLAMABAD

 Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif (File Photo)

Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif (File Photo)

Pakistan claimed victory in the ongoing Financial Action Task Force (FATF) meeting as a preliminary discussion in the International Co-operation Review Group (ICRG) failed to build a consensus on putting it again on the terror ‘watch-list’.

However, U.S. and Indian officials called the claim “premature” and said a final decision is still to come. “The final decision on FATF listing on Pakistan is still awaited after the Plenary meet in Paris which ends on 23rd...” a source said.

Minister’s tweet

Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja M. Asif, in Moscow at the time, tweeted on Wednesday that Pakistan had won a reprieve of three months in which to convince the UN body not to put it on a ‘grey-list’ of countries where terror financing and black money laundering needed scrutiny. Pakistan was on the FATF watch-list from 2012 to 2015. He added that the committee had agreed to consider another report on this in June.

"Our efforts paid[off]," Mr. Asif wrote, adding that there was "No consensus for nominating Pakistan" and the committee had proposed a three-month pause with another report to be considered in June.

According to reports in Pakistani newspapers, countries including China, Turkey and Saudi Arabia did not back the resolution, which was originally supported by the U.S., Germany, the U.K. and France. The case against Pakistan outlined the government's inaction against outfits like UN-banned terror groups Jaish e Mohammed Lashkar e Toiba, Jamaat-ud Dawa and its affiliate Falah-i-Insaaniyat Foundation.

Officials in New Delhi and Washington, described Pakistan's victory claim as "premature", as the FATF works in secrecy until it makes a final decision on a resolution at its plenary session.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said a final decision could come on Thursday. “The Financial Action Task Force [is] where a lot of countries have come together and they look at various nations who we believe, and those other countries believe, are not doing enough to crack down on terror financing, counter-terrorism and the like....Pakistan is one of those countries that they [FATF] are taking a close look at, and… they’ll be making an announcement sometime soon,” she said, making a special mention of concerns over Lashkar-e-Taiba leader Hafiz Saeed, who "was responsible for the Mumbai attacks of 2008".

The nomination is a significant step as it blacklists the country for non-cooperation in the global fight against money laundering and terror financing.

FATF is an inter-governmental body, comprising 38 member countries, which sets standards and promotes effective implementation of various measures to fight money laundering and terrorist financing.

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