Pakistan appeared to make some progress on convincing members of the global watchdog FATF (Financial Action Task Force) of its efforts to curb terror financing at a key meeting in Beijing on Thursday. A final decision on its “greylist” status is expected next month.
According to sources, Pakistan was cleared at the Asia Pacific Group (APG) meeting held in China from January 21 to 23 on 14 of the 27 specific counter-terror goals set by the body. The figure indicates that Islamabad is only half-way towards fulfilling its commitment, but is a significant improvement over its record before the FATF in October 2019, when it had only been cleared on five goals. Pakistan is understood to have convinced the committee that it has frozen the bank accounts and regulated access to funds for nine terrorists, including LeT chief Hafiz Saeed and Taliban leaders, banned by the UN Security Council.
The External Affairs Ministry refused to comment on the deliberations of the APG, which are confidential, but said India would watch the final result of the Plenary Group meeting beginning in Paris on February 16.
A positive recommendation from the APG could significantly reduce chances of a blacklist for Pakistan.
“We presume that the FATF will evaluate the progress made by Pakistan on the basis of the set criteria,” Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said on Thursday. “At the last plenary meeting in Paris in October, the body had expressed serious concerns with the lack of progress overall by Pakistan to address its terror financing risks, emanating from areas under its control. It is now for the members to decide [in February] whether Pakistan has fulfilled its commitments,” he said.
India, along with several countries in the 39-member body, had increased efforts to hold Pakistan to account on support to banned terror groups, which had led to it being placed on the ‘greylist’ in June 2018.
According to sources, Pakistan engaged several countries directly to gain some leniency in the process, which could have otherwise placed severe financial strictures on investment into the country. Prime Minister Imran Khan reportedly raised the FATF issue during talks with U.S. President Donald Trump at Davos this week. In addition, India’s strained ties with Malaysia and Turkey could mean that any attempt to blacklist Pakistan is vetoed by them.
China, the current President of the FATF and co-chair for APG, has praised the Pakistan team for the government’s efforts.
(With inputs from PTI)