Pakistan has urged the U.S. to support its bid to exit from the grey list of the FATF ahead of a key meeting of the international terror financing watchdog in Beijing, in which it will scrutinise Islamabad’s efforts to adopt stricter laws against terror financing and money laundering.
A Pakistani delegation arrived in Beijing on Sunday for the three-day face-to-face talks with the Financial Action Task Force Working Group that would start on January 21. The briefing will go over whether Pakistan has complied with an earlier agenda presented to it by the Paris-based financial task force, The News reported.
Black list, next?
The Pakistani delegation is led by Minister for Economic Affairs Division Hammad Azhar, comprises representatives of National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta), the Foreign Ministry, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).
The FATF in October decided to keep Pakistan on its ‘Grey’ list for failure to curb funnelling of funds to terror groups LeT, JeM and others. If not removed off the list by April, Pakistan may move to a blacklist of countries that face severe economic sanctions, such as Iran.
Pakistan has submitted a 650-page review report to the FATF on January 8. The report was in response to 150 questions raised by the FATF over new Pakistani policies on money laundering. The report outlined the steps taken by Pakistan between October 2019 to January 2020 to implement the group’s recommendations.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had said in Washington on Friday that Pakistan hoped the U.S. would back its efforts to get it off the list at the FATF’s Beijing meeting, the Dawn newspaper reported.
This meeting is very important for us as it leads to a plenary meeting in Paris in April, where the world body will decide whether Pakistan remains on the list or is taken off, he said.
Mr. Qureshi concluded his three-day visit to the US on Friday after a series of meetings with key US lawmakers and officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien.
The Foreign Minister spent the week touring Iran, Saudi Arabia and the US on a diplomatic mission meant to defuse tensions between Washington and Tehran.
At his news briefing, Qureshi also urged the US to review its travel advisories for Pakistan and encourage investments in the country. US travel advisories still present Pakistan as a country Americans should avoid travelling because of terrorism threats.
Asked why the FATF’s Beijing meeting was important, Qureshi said that decisions taken in China’s capital would also impact the Force’s Paris plenary, which would decide whether Pakistan stayed in or was taken off the grey list.
We want our American friends to tell us what’s their policy, he said. You share with us what measures you have taken or intend to.
The minister acknowledged that removal from the FATF list could not happen overnight, but said that the US could enhance its engagements with Pakistan while waiting for the removal.
Qureshi noted that in his meetings with Prime Minister Imran Khan last year, US President Donald Trump had said that he wanted to see Pakistan off the FATF grey list. So, we expect US officials to work for it now.
The foreign minister said Islamabad had taken several concrete steps to meet FATF demands and the time had come for the US to fulfil President Trump’s pledge.