Moment of truth at FATF

A crucial meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has commenced in Paris where Pakistan’s fate hangs in the balance. Either our nation will be blacklisted for inadequate measures against money laundering and terror financing or remain on the grey list where it has been since June 2018.

Economics Affairs minister Hammad Azhar, who is leading the Pakistani delegation, has an enormous task ahead to convince the global body that Pakistan has made significant measures and should be removed from the grey list. Pakistan hopes to avoid being blacklisted with the help of friendly countries.

Earlier this month, a report of the Asia Pacific Group, a FATF regional affiliate, said there are high chances Pakistan would remain on the grey list. Pakistan was given the final deadline until October to show improvements in the action plan against terror activities. Now the moment of truth has arrived to review Pakistan’s case and decide the necessary course of action if progress is considered unsatisfactory.

Pakistan made a political commitment to strengthen its anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing laws. The government insists that the actions are in the nation’s interests and not being enforced due to pressure from external forces. Consequently, action has been taken gainst many proscribed outfits, confiscating their properties, and placing their leaders under house arrest.

Pakistan insists that it has made tremendous progress during the past year. However, the national risk assessment report states that Pakistani authorities do not consider money laundering and terror financing as high-risk category areas; an assessment not reiterated by the FATF report.

India has exploited this situation against Pakistan given the ongoing tensions between the two countries. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has stated that India is utilising all means to place Pakistan on the blacklist. These attempts seem to have been foiled as Pakistan has managed to gains support from China, Turkey, and Malaysia. The sensationalist Indian media also availed this opportunity to unleash misleading information against Pakistan to overshadow facts proving commitment to leaving the grey list.

Pakistan needs to come out of this grey list and not be relieved that it dodged being blacklisted. The country faces several economic, financial, and trade issues and will suffer if it remains on the grey list. It had several opportunities to review laws against money laundering and terror financing, and now it needs to be seen if FATF will be convinced by Pakistan’s measures.

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