ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has completed implementation on 26 out of 27 points of action given by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to get off the grey list, said sources ahead of a FATF plenary meeting later this month.
In June 2018, the global watchdog had placed Pakistan on its grey list over Islamabad’s failure to curb money laundering and terror financing. Since then, Pakistan has been struggling to get out of the list by working on the FATF action plan.
Ahead of the plenary moot, the Pakistan-specific body of the FATF – International Cooperation and Review Group (ICRG) – will hold a virtual meeting today to assess Pakistan’s progress on the action plan. The ICRG will present its report in the FATF plenary meeting that will be held on June 21-25. This ICRG subgroup comprises China, the US, the UK, France, Germany, New Zealand, and India — most of these states are sceptic about Pakistan’s efforts.
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After ICRG, the plenary meeting of the global watchdog will assess Pakistan’s performance on June 23 and decide whether Islamabad has done enough to get off the grey list.
It is pertinent to mention that Pakistan’s progress on the action plan has been significant and the remaining one agenda pointer is partially complete as well; however, its recognition is much to do with the global political landscape.
But it seems Pakistan will probably remain on the grey list till the next plenary meeting, given the skepticism as observers in Islamabad have with “little to no faith” in the members of the global watchdog about an impartial assessment of Pakistan’s accomplishments.
Experts believe that Pakistan’s progress on the given action plan has been phenomenal and that no other developing country has been subjected to such stringent measures and that if a comparative assessment was to be done in lieu of the action plan given to Pakistan, much of the developing countries would fall short by miles.
Since its placement on the anti-terror list, over 900 properties of proscribed organisations have been taken over by the state machinery. Similarly, individuals of concern — Hafiz Saeed, Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, Yahya Mujahid, Professor Zafar Iqbal, Hafiz Abdus Salam and others — have also been prosecuted by the government.
Pakistan has overhauled its laws pertaining to anti-money laundering and terror financing by introducing harsher punishments for those found involved in corrupt and illicit practices. Moreover, the country has also proposed strict monitoring of imports and exports to curb the illegal flow of wealth in its recent finance bill.
After an overall assessment, it would be fair to conclude that the threats of blacklisting of the country by the global watchdog are over; however, the grey-listing remains a threat.
Meanwhile, a dig into the claim made by Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar, who heads the interdepartmental governmental body on FATF, that Pakistan has achieved 31 out of the 40 recommendations of the Mutual Evaluation revealed that the country is likely to be given a separate action plan for Mutual Evaluation under Post Observation Periodic Review (POPR).
This would be separate from the ongoing 27-point action plan to counter money laundering and terror financing risks. Sources privy to the matter say that the FATF body wanted to merge the action plan and POPR plan, but this was circumvented due to active diplomatic efforts by Islamabad.
It takes three votes to break any consensus at the plenary meeting of the global watchdog. In the last plenary meeting, at least seven countries came out in support of Pakistan by publicly acknowledging the countries progress on the given action plan.