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Will FATF BlackList Pakistan

Pakistan, in its last- ditch effort, prior to crucial Financial Action Task Force (FATF) plenary meeting is being held in Paris from 12- 18 October, has arrested four persons associated with United Nation (UN) designated global terrorist Hafiz Saeed. The global ‘watchdog’ on anti money laundering for promoting terrorism, and review the “Grey list” status of Pakistan during this meeting. Pakistan was included on the ‘grey list’ compiled by FATF and has been under tremendous pressure to stop financing militant groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), HaqqNetwork, among others. The country remained under the FATF radar for its complicity towards these groups. In addition, banned terrorists like Hafiz Saeed and Azhar Masood are regularly involved in collecting donations or recruiting ‘volunteers’ for armed rebellions in India, or making calls for jihad in Kashmir.

Asia Pacific report

At the June FATF meet, Pakistan was given time till October to improve its counterterrorist financing operations in accordance with the agreed plan. It is at the same meet, Pakistan secured three votes needed to avoid inclusion in a blacklist. China, Turkey and Malaysia voted in favour of Pakistan. However, the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) that monitors compliance found that the country has failed to deliver on most components of a 27-point action plan.

A recent report by the APG also stated the same. The APG had 10 parameters for ‘Effectiveness and Technical Compliance Ratings’ and 40 for ‘Technical Compliance Ratings’. Of the 10 parameters on effectiveness, Pakistan was found ‘low’ in nine areas and ‘moderate’ in one. Of the 40 technical compliance, Pakistan was found ‘compliant’ in only one, ‘partially compliant’ in 26, ‘largely compliant’ in 9 and ‘non-compliant’ in 4. On August 22, the APG had placed Pakistan in the Enhanced Expedited Follow-Up List (blacklist) for its failure to meet the set standards.The APG report is among the materials that the FATF plenary will consider before deciding to retain Pakistan in the grey list or demote it to the black list.

China’s role

Pakistan presented its compliance report to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in Paris on Monday. However, reports suggest that the country’s efforts to tackle terror-financing and money laundering might fall short in its compliance with the global body’s mandate. The compliance report at the FATF meeting is being presented by Pakistan economic affairs minister Hammad Azhar. However, it must be noted that all eyes are now  on Pakistan’s all weather friend China at the FATF plenary meeting. China holds the current FATF presidency. China’s Xiangmin Liu is the current FATF president. China’s role will be crucial, especially after President Xi Jinping’s recent visit to India, where the leader and Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke at length about working together on terrorism.

Viewpoint

The recent report of APG Mutual Evaluation Repot (MER) is not very encouraging on the steps taken by the Pakistan on money- laundering and terror financing. The steps taken by the Pakistan are far from satisfactory. There is much required to be done, ad major impediment to take concrete action is the inability of the the concerned institute to comprehend the gravity of the situation. One wonders as to whether this is because of sheer ignorance or is a part of well thought of state policy. In the backdrop of the meeting between Chinese Premier, XI Jinping and Prime minister of India , Narendra Modi at Mamallapuram where both leaders discussed the menace of the terrorism and resolved to work together on the issue. Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale told the media at the end of the two-day talks that “both leaders agreed that it was important to deal with the challenges of terrorism and radicalization in an increasingly complex world, and where our own societies were diverse,” it remains to be seen whether Pakistan once again able to dodge past the ‘watchdog’ or goes into blacklist. The initial indicators from Paris suggest that Pakistan may continue to remain in the ‘grey list’ or may be placed in ‘dark grey list’.

15 Oct 19/Tuesday                                                                        Written by Fayaz

 

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