Despite the high expectations ahead of the plenary session, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has decided to retain Pakistan on its grey list of anti-money laundering and terror financing regimes.
The decision is not entirely surprising as Pakistan has not yet completed the 27-point action plan given by the global watchdog. Pakistan was acknowledged for making considerable progress but has fallen short on six points pertaining to terror financing. However, it has handed over another lifeline and has been given until February 2021 to complete the rest of the action plan.
This should be a sign of relief for the government that Pakistan is being acknowledged for making progress. It is a disappointment for India which was lobbying hard to blacklist Pakistan which could trigger sanctions and lead to economic collapse. The Asia Pacific Group has earlier recommended that Pakistan was not making significant progress; those conspiracies have been foiled for now.
It is imperative that Pakistan makes complete efforts to fulfill the action plan and get out of the grey list as the nation’s future and economic plan depends strongly on it. This will be the most challenging part as they relate to the funding and operation of militant organizations. Many banned outfits continue to operate with impunity while the state appears completely helpless. Now the global watchdog wants Pakistan to take strict action against terror financing.
Pakistan has claimed that it has acted against these banned outfits, arrested their leaders and seized their assets and funds. These efforts are merely an eyewash to give an impression that the writ of the state is not being challenged. More serious efforts are required if we want to come off the grey list. The decision might be tough and there will be backlash but the future depends on it.
If we want to become a progressive and developed nation, then we need to take tougher decisions to address our challenges. We need to boost the economy and invite foreign investment which will happen when we create a conducive environment. This makes it more important than ever before to come out of the grey list at the next review.