Pakistan may get off terror funding watchdog’s ‘grey list’ after on-site check

Continued political commitment to combating terror financing. money laundering has led to significant progress: watchdog

June 17, 2022 11:25 pm | Updated June 18, 2022 10:10 am IST

A Pakistani man in Karachi on June 17, 2022  watches TV channels flashing news on international terror funding watchdog FATF’s decision to keep Pakistan on a so-called “grey list” of countries.

A Pakistani man in Karachi on June 17, 2022 watches TV channels flashing news on international terror funding watchdog FATF’s decision to keep Pakistan on a so-called “grey list” of countries. | Photo Credit: AP

Pakistan on Friday got a reprieve from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) as the international watchdog announced that the country could be removed from the “grey list” after a visit by a fact-finding team to verify the measures it has taken to deal with terror financing. FATF noted Pakistan’s claims of actions to curb terror funding.

The Hindu had earlier reported that Islamabad was confident of a positive outcome from the current FATF Plenary as it believed, it had “completed” the list of tasks that were assigned to it by the global body.

According to sources aware of the process, Pakistan would formally be taken off the “grey list” in October. They said the process really kicked off after the meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto at the UN in May.

India’s stance

Subsequently, most Western nations and China, who are members of the FATF working group, cleared Pakistan’s case at an emergency internal meeting.

As the decision was by consensus, India was not asked to vote on the decision, but New Delhi has been sceptical of Pakistan’s commitment to completely end terror safe havens in the country. Officials also pointed to Jammu and Kashmir where, they said, infiltration continued and “small arms and IEDs” were being pushed across the LoC. Agencies were preparing for an “increased threat” in the next few months, the officials added.

“Pakistan continued its relentless efforts towards successful completion of these Action Plans despite many challenges including the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan said in a statement after FATF announced a favourable observation about Pakistan’s actions.

Officials had told The Hindu that Pakistan received support from the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council in getting itself out of the “grey list”. Pakistan was brought back on the “grey list” in 2018 which allowed the country to be monitored closely by FATF.

The Ministry said, “Pakistan has covered a lot of ground in the AML/CFT [anti-money laundering and combatting the financing of terrorism and proliferation] domain during implementation of FATF Action Plans. The engagement with FATF has led to the development of a strong AML/CFT framework in Pakistan and resulted in improving our systems to cope with future challenges.”

Pakistan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar who led the country’s delegation to FATF praised the move.

An international watchdog said on Friday that it will keep Pakistan on a so-called “grey list” of countries that do not take full measures to combat money laundering and terror financing but raised hopes that its removal would follow an upcoming visit to Islamabad to determine its progress.

Marcus Pleyer, the President of FATF, said an on-site inspection by the watchdog in Pakistan would take place before October, and that a formal announcement on Pakistan’s removal would follow. He said FATF was praising Islamabad for implementing the organisation’s action plans — a clear indication that Pakistan is moving closer to getting off the “grey list”.

“Pakistan’s continued political commitment to combating both terrorist financing and money laundering has led to significant progress,” FATF said in a statement. The country’s efforts were sustained, it said and added that Pakistan’s “necessary political commitment remains in place to sustain implementation and improvement in the future.”

(With agency inputs)

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