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Saturday, February 27, 2021

Pakistan remains in FATF’s greylist, gets stern warning on terror funding

The FATF's decision means that it would be very difficult for Pakistan to get financial aid from the IMF, the World Bank and the European Union, making its financial condition even more precarious.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: February 21, 2020 9:53:15 pm
Pakistan PM Imran Khan says ready to hold referendum in PoK FATF decision means that it would be very difficult for Pakistan to get financial aid from the IMF, the World Bank and the European Union, making its financial condition even more precarious. (File)

Pakistan continues to remain in the ‘greylist’ of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) for its failure to check terror funding, news agency PTI reported. The global terror financing watchdog also said that all deadlines given to Islamabad had ended and warned that stern action would be taken if it “fails to prosecute, penalise on terror funding acts by June.”

In a statement issued by the FATF, it says, “All deadlines given to Pakistan to check terror funding ended; it failed to complete its action plan in line with agreed timeline. To date, Pakistan has largely addressed 14 of 27 action items.”

The development means that it would be very difficult for the country to get financial aid from the IMF, the World Bank and the European Union, making its financial condition even more precarious.

The decision was taken at the plenary meeting of the FATF, which took place in Paris after the conclusion of the February 16-21 group meetings.

EXPLAINED: FATF’s another 150 questions for Pakistan — and what happens now

Pakistan has been asked to meet with all 27 compliance points by June 2020. The FATF, however, stopped short of recommending the country for the blacklist. The country has not complied with 13 out of 27 actions that mostly pertain to terror funding, whereas, some of them are related to money laundering.

Earlier this week, sources had 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 blacklist at Paris.”

At the last plenary session, Pakistan had addressed only five of the 27 tasks given to it to control funding to terror groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad, responsible for a series of attacks in India.

“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,” a Western diplomat had said on condition of anonymity.

Last week, a Pakistani court had sentenced Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed on terror financing charges after he was designated a global terrorist by the United Nations.

Taking note of Saeed’s conviction, 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.”

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

However, there were apprehensions regarding the efficacy of the decision as the decision was made on the eve of the FATF plenary meeting, govt sources had added.

Pakistan required 12 votes out of a total of 39 for an exclusion from the grey list, whereas, it needs only 3 votes to avoid falling into the blacklist. 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.

Pakistan was placed on the grey list by the FATF in June 2018 and was given a plan of action to complete it by October 2019, or face the risk of being placed on the black list with Iran and North Korea. China, Turkey and Malaysia are learnt to have resisted India’s efforts throughout the last year-and-half. India had lobbied with several countries, from the US to Europe, Australia to West Asian countries, to make the case for blacklisting of Pakistan.

China commends Pak’s efforts in combating terror financing 

Meanwhile, China praised its close-ally Pakistan for its “enormous efforts” in combating terror financing and played down reports of it backing India and other countries against Islamabad.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang told an online media briefing: “China’s position on the relevant issue remains unchanged. Pakistan has made enormous efforts in improving its counter-terror financing system, which has been recognised by the vast majority of the FATF members at its latest plenary meeting concluded on February 20 in Paris.”

He added, “It was decided at the meeting that Pakistan will be allowed more time to continue implementing its action plan.”

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