A 15-member team of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) quietly concluded a five-day visit to Pakistan this week, a move that may pave the way for Islamabad to finally exit the grey list.

The findings of the team would be discussed and reviewed in the next meeting of FATF, scheduled in Paris in October.

The positive outcome of the onsite team’s findings would allow Pakistan to finally come clean over deficiencies in the system to curb money laundering and terror financing.

Official sources confirmed that the FATA team, which was given a state guest level protocol, stayed in the country from August 29 to September 2.

The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) approved a special grant of Rs7 million for FATF Secretariat to provide the team accommodation, food and travel.

The visit was kept under wraps, but sources said the FATA delegation held meetings with the relevant authorities and verified the steps Pakistan had taken to fulfil the condition of international financial watchdog on money laundering and terror financing.

The FATF in June had hinted at Pakistan’s removal from the grey list after it concluded that Islamabad complied with the 34-point plan of action and agreed to send its team for the verification of those steps.

Pakistan was placed on the grey list by FATF in June 2018 for deficiencies in its system to curb money laundering and terror financing.

It was first given a 27-point action plan and later another 7-point plan to comply with the FATF’s standards.

The major stumbling block was the persecution of certain UNSC designated individuals accused of terror financing. Just days before the June plenary FATF meeting in Berlin, Pakistani anti-terrorism court convicted Sajid Mir in terror financing case, something that convinced the FATF members to acknowledge Pakistan’s progress.

Pakistani officials were confident that the FATF team would give positive assessment of the country’s progress. Officials, however, cautioned that the neighbouring country might still use its influence to drag Pakistan’s case.

The United States is believed to have played a key role in ensuring the onsite visit for Pakistan as it expressed satisfaction with the country’s measures to curb terror financing particularly prosecuting the certain individuals.

The exit from the FATF grey list will restore Pakistan’s image and give confidence to the foreign investors for doing ventures in the country. The grey listing makes it hard for countries to do financial transactions and raises the cost of doing business.

Pakistan’s likely removal from the grey list will help give impetus to its struggling economy.

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