Pakistan today claimed that it 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 international watchdog FATF. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global body that combats terrorist financing and money laundering, met in Paris amidst reports that the US with support of some European allies was trying to place Pakistan on a list of countries that financially support terrorism.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif took to social media early this morning to announce 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 tweeted. Asif said Pakistan was “grateful to friends who helped” to avoid being placed on the watch-list. Member states of the FATF have been meeting this week in Paris, where it was expected that they would decide on the US-led motion — backed by the UK, France and Germany — to have Pakistan added to the ‘grey list’ of countries not doing enough to comply with terrorist-funding regulations.
The meetings involve more than 700 delegates from the 203 jurisdictions of the FATF Global Network, as well as the UN, IMF, World Bank and other partners. Pakistan has sent the Prime Minister’s Adviser on Finance Dr Miftah Ismail to attend the FATF meeting at a time when the activities of Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed’s Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and the Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF) have created problems for the Pakistan government, reports said.
Pakistan suspects India’s hand behind the US-sponsored resolution as Ismail recently lamented that the FATA was used for political purposes, the report said. Last week, Foreign Office spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal had expressed serious concerns about the efforts by some members of the FATF to include it in the grey list. “Pakistan has serious concerns over and objections to the introduction of this new procedure, which is unprecedented and in clear violation of established rules/practices of FATF. Since 2015, time and again the goal posts have been shifted for reporting by Pakistan,” he had said.
He had claimed that the move was “politically motivated” and its real aim was to hamper economic progress of Pakistan, as it was initiated even before the completion of Pakistan’s Mutual Evaluation and designed to manipulate the FATF process. Faisal said Pakistan was placed in the grey list in 2012 but was removed in 2015 after strenuous efforts to address the concerns of the group.
“After the exit (in 2015), the FATF referred Pakistan to APG (Asia-Pacific Group) due to residuary concerns regarding implementation of UNSCR 1267 sanctions on some entities i.e. (Lashkar-e-Taiba, JuD, and FIF),” he said. He said Pakistan has been continuously reporting to APG on these “residual concerns”.
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) was set up in 1989 with primary aim to set standards to combat money laundering but in 2001, its mandate was expanded to include countering terrorist financing. It can take action against any country by including a country in black or grey lists.
According to the financial sector experts, any move to place Pakistan on the watch-list would enhance scrutiny level of the financial transactions that the country’s banking sector would undertake with the rest of the world. This will increase the cost of opening letter of credits (LC) for trade purposes. The negative decision by the FATF will have the force to affect the international credit ratings, which will in turn increase cost of borrowings for the government.
At present, the 11 jurisdictions are on the high risk and monitoring list of the FATF, which include North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Ethiopia. Pakistan was on the FATF grey list from 2009 to 2015.