FATF terror watch-list: Did Pakistan’s overzealous Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif put his foot in his mouth?

By: |
Islamabad | February 23, 2018 10:37 PM

Pakistan had lobbied FATF member countries to keep it off the watch lisT.

FATF terror watch-list, FATF, pakistan, terrorist list, pakistan in terrorist list, Pakistan's Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif , pakistan Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal Khawaja Asif (Reuters)

Did Pakistan’s over zealous Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif put his foot in his mouth by prematurely claiming that Islamabad has avoided being placed in a watch-list by a global watchdog over terrorism financing? It seems so, going by a tweet of his Cabinet colleague and Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal as well as the Foreign Ministry.

On Wednesday, Asif had tweeted that Pakistan had foiled US-led efforts to place it on a terrorist financing watch-list after the country was granted a three-month reprieve by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

Foreign Minister Asif had tweeted that “our efforts paid” and “no consensus for nominating Pakistan” for the watch-list was reached at the conclusion of meeting on the US-led motion.

The meeting proposed “three months pause” and asked APG (Asia Pacific Group) for “another report to be considered in June”, he had tweeted.

Asif said Pakistan was “grateful to friends who helped” to avoid being placed on the watch-list.

But Interior Minister Iqbal tweeted today, cautioning against speculation on the matter until there is official confirmation of the FATF decision.

“No official intimation of #FATF decision yet. We should not speculate till official statement is released,” Iqbal said.

Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal, in a weekly press briefing in Islamabad today, said Pakistan had serious concerns over the motion moved by the US and United Kingdom at the FATF, Radio Pakistan reported.

Replying to several questions about the outcome of the meeting of FATF regarding placing Pakistan on in its “grey list” of nations not doing enough to counter terror financing, he said so far the outcome is “awaited”.

The Paris-based FATF international watchdog on money laundering and terror financing is going to announce its decisions — including on the motion to place Pakistan on the terror-financing watch list — after a week-long session concludes today.

The FATF session is being held to review proposals that include putting Pakistan back on a list of countries which have failed to prevent terrorist financing.

If adopted, the resolution would place Pakistan on the FATF grey-list of “jurisdictions with deficient anti-money laundering regimes.” Pakistan was previously on the FATF watch-list from 2012 to 2015.

The Wall Street Journal had named China, Turkey and Saudi Arabia as the ‘friends’ who had come to rescue Pakistan, saying that the three countries had blocked the US’s motion to put Pakistan on the list.

Pakistan had lobbied FATF member countries to keep it off the watch list, the report read.

In the lead-up to the FATF plenary session, Pakistan government took control of three dispensaries run by Hafiz Saeed’s Jamaat-ud Dawa (JuD) and the Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF) in a rural area near the capital.

Additionally, President Mamnoon Hussain on Feb 9 quietly promulgated an ordinance amending the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 to end a longstanding ambiguity over the status of the JuD and FIF by firmly placing them on the list of proscribed groups.

The FATF, an intergovernmental body based in Paris that sets global standards for fighting illicit finance, had previously warned Islamabad it could be put back on the list without further efforts to crack down on the flow of funds to militants, Dawn newspaper reported.

Pakistani officials and Western diplomats say being put on the FATF watch-list could deal a blow to Pakistan’s economy, making it harder for foreign investors and companies to do business in the country, it said.

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