Former minister for energy Hammad Azhar on Saturday said that India’s role, whenever the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) reviewed Pakistan’s progress in combating terrorism and curbing money laundering, has historically been negative and this is something the previous PTI government highlighted.
“It was clear that India was trying to use this platform for political purposes,” said Azhar, addressing a press conference in Lahore shortly after Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar held a media briefing to discuss the FATF latest verdict.
The FATF announced a day earlier that Pakistan has “substantially completed its two action plans” and would be removed from the grey list after it passes the on-site visit to assess the implementation of Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT).
“When came into power, there was a lot of fear that Pakistan would be blacklisted,” said Azhar.
He said the PTI government formed an FATF Coordination Committee which included all the relevant state institutions. “Officers of the committee worked day and night,” he added.
The former minister went on to say that last year Pakistan managed to complete the implementation of 32 items of the 34 that were part of the FATF action plan and a report on the remaining two was submitted in April.
It bears mentioning that the Prime Minister Imran Khan and his cabinet was removed from office on April 11 via a vote of no confidence.
“[I am happy] we have completed all 34 items of the FATF action plan,” he said, adding that a “difficult” phase had now come to an end.
Azhar said that the “best work” on an action plan by FATF given to any country in the world had been done by Pakistan.
“The PTI government passed dozens of laws related to FATF. Financial systems were upgraded, officers trained,” he said.
“The real heroes are the officers who are sitting in different departments,” Azhar said, adding that they “performed continuously” for three and a half years.
According to the minister, the PTI exposed the Indian team in this period.
“This is a technical forum, not a political forum. An attempt was made to make it political,” said Azhar.
“We found a lot of benami accounts. This is a victory for the whole of Pakistan,” he said.
“This has sent a positive signal to the world about our financial system and legal system,” he highlighted.
The minister said that after getting out of the grey list, Pakistan should get FATF membership, akin to Russia, who too had been on the list but now is a member.
“Credit goes to the whole of Pakistan, including military officers,” he said.
The minister said that remittances rose in the last three-and-a-half years as work on reforms began, and that the country is “currently running on remittances from abroad”.
Criticising the current government, he said that they have “malice” in their heart when it comes to overseas Pakistanis.
“The current rulers think that the Pakistanis are closer to Imran Khan,” he said.