The fate of Pakistan is once again in the hands of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to be moved from the so-called grey list. A plenary session of the FATF is being held in Paris to review progress made by Pakistan towards the implementation of the 27-point action plan handed out in the last meeting.
According to initial reports, it seems the global body is satisfied over the steps taken by Pakistan to curbs terror financing. It wants tighter laws, improvement in the prosecution and stricter punishments to hold individuals responsible for money laundering and terror financing accountable. Pakistan is also making attempts to convince the global body that the menace of laundering is being controlled.
Pakistan has cited the recent conviction of Hafiz Saeed, the leader of the proscribed Jamaatud Dawa, as evidence that the courts are independent and taking decisions based on merit. Saeed along with a close aide was recently sentenced for eleven years in two terror financing cases. His conviction has also been recognised by the US and other countries as a major achievement by Pakistan.
There is no doubt that Pakistan is demonstrating seriousness to comply with the FATF’s action plan. In 2018, Pakistan was placed on the grey list and asked to crack down on money laundering and terror financing. A series of reforms initiated in 2019 were deemed insufficient and Pakistan had to take additional measures.
It remains in Pakistan’s own interest to clean the stable as failure to comply would lead to being placed on the blacklist. This would have grave consequences, trigger economic sanctions and bring the nation down on the path of global isolation. Pakistan has displayed significant progress which seems to be acknowledged by the FATF. The nation is not expected to be placed on the blacklist as it also has the support of friendly nations.
The FATF should recognise the enormity of the task in implementing the action plan. Pakistan has complied with 14 out of 27 points while eleven others are partially implemented. Pakistan has passed laws to tighten the noose on terror outfits despite the lack of implementation on the National Action Plan which dealt with counter-terrorism and extremism and eventually fell apart.
This does not imply that enough has been done as terror organisations and sectarian outfits continue to operate with impunity and often receive patronage while money laundering remains a huge problem. Despite that Pakistan should be removed from the grey list as it will improve the economic performance and also send a strong message to other countries.