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Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Plenary meet begins today: Pakistan likely to remain on FATF grey list

Pakistan’s case will come up for review at the FATF plenary in Paris from February 16 to 21. Of the 27 actions it was supposed to undertake by October 2018, when it was put on the grey list in June 2018, Pakistan was found fully compliant only on five points at the last plenary meeting.

Written by Sushant Singh | New Delhi | Updated: February 16, 2020 1:07:33 pm
imran khan pakistan pm fatf grey list Sources told The Sunday Express that “there is no doubt that Pakistan will continue on the grey list. But yes, it is unlikely that it could be moved to the black list at Paris this week.”(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Pakistan is likely to remain on the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) at its plenary meeting in Paris, as it is still not fully compliant on 13 of the 27 actions. While these 13 actions mostly pertain to terror funding, Pakistan has been deemed to be compliant on most of the other points which are related to money laundering.

Sources told The Sunday Express that “there is no doubt that Pakistan will continue on the grey list. But yes, it is unlikely that it could be moved to the black list at Paris this week.”

Pakistan’s case will come up for review at the FATF plenary in Paris from February 16 to 21. Of the 27 actions it was supposed to undertake by October 2018, when it was put on the grey list in June 2018, Pakistan was found fully compliant only on five points at the last plenary meeting.

EXPLAINED

Pressure to act on terror

With its economy already in a slump, the FATF grey-listing forced Pakistan to take action. By leveraging its geopolitical role in Afghanistan, Islamabad has managed some breathing space, and stopped the western countries from placing it on the black list.

“The problem with India-Pakistan is that everything is seen as either a win or a loss for one side. FATF is a process and Pakistan is engaged with it — progress on certain aspects can vary but there is an agreed action plan and a political commitment. No one expects Pakistan to be punished at Paris,” said a Western diplomat on condition of anonymity.

To avoid any further pressure at Paris, a Pakistani court had this week sentenced Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed on terror financing charges. Saeed had been designated a global terrorist by the United Nations, with a $10 million placed by the US. He was arrested in Pakistan on July 17 last year in the terror financing case.

OPINION: Why Pakistan might not be ‘blacklisted’ this time by FATF

Alice Wells, acting US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, had noted that the “conviction of Hafiz Saeed and his associate is an important step forward — both toward holding LeT accountable for its crimes, and for Pakistan in meeting its international commitments to combat terrorist financing.”

Government sources, however, had said “the decision has been made on the eve of the FATF plenary meeting, which has to be noted. Hence the efficacy of this decision remains to be seen. It has to also be seen whether Pakistan would take action against all other terrorist entities and individuals operating from territories under its control and bring perpetrators of cross border terrorist attacks, including in Mumbai and Pathankot, to justice expeditiously.”

After it got a reprieve at Beijing last month, Islamabad was expected to make a case for its exclusion from the grey list at Paris. To achieve that, it needs 12 votes out of a total of 39. It, however, needs only three votes to avoid falling into the FATF black list. After Paris, the next chance for it to be moved out of the FATF grey list will be either in June or September.

Although FATF is only a task force, not backed by any international treaty that could make its measures binding on member countries, its listing of any country has an adverse effect on that country.

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