Pakistan is unlikely to leave the Financial Action Task Force’s “gray” list by June, despite seeking support from member states ahead of next week’s plenary session of the global watchdog on terrorist financing and money laundering Wednesday.
The plenary and working group meetings of the FATF, to be held in Paris from February 21 to 26, are to decide on the status of Pakistan’s gray list.
Pakistan was placed on the FATF’s “gray” list in June 2018 and was given a timetable to address global concerns through the implementation of 27 action points.
The FATF concluded during its virtual plenary session last October that Pakistan would remain on its “gray” list until February 2021 for failure to meet six key commitments made by the global watchdog for money laundering and terrorist financing, including failure Heard Take Action Against Two Of India’s Most Wanted Terrorists – Maulana Masood Azhar and Hafiz Saeed.
According to a report in The Express Tribune newspaper, although Foreign Secretary Shah Mahmood Qureshi sounded optimistic about the outcome of the upcoming FATF meeting, officials admitted Pakistan would remain on the “gray” list until at least June.
However, it was pointed out that before the FATF plenary session, Pakistan sought the support of member countries for a site visit. A decisive step – if agreed – will improve Islamabad’s chances of officially leaving the “gray”. List by June.
“If agreed, the FATF’s on-the-ground visit will help Pakistan get graylisted by June this year,” a senior Pakistani official dealing with the matter was quoted in the report.
“Over the past few days, the Federal Foreign Office has invited ambassadors and diplomats from FATF member countries to inform them of the” substantial progress “Pakistan has made in implementing the 27-point action plan,” the report said, citing officials with the Development familiar.
Pakistan has called on member states to support its case and allow the FATF to carry out on-site inspection, a crucial step that will result in the country being grayed out.
The FATF is an intergovernmental body founded in 1989 to combat money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.
The FATF currently has 39 members, including two regional organizations – the European Commission and the Gulf Cooperation Council. India is a member of the FATF Consultations and the Asia Pacific Group.
Pakistan needs 12 of 39 votes to leave the “gray” list and switch to the “white” list. To avoid a blacklist, three countries need to be supported. China, Turkey and Malaysia are their consistent supporters.
At a virtual press conference in Paris in October last year, FATF President Marcus Pleyer said that the failure of six of the 27 mandates by Pakistan had meant that the country remained on the “gray” list.
“The FATF will send a team to visit once Pakistan meets the remaining six conditions. Then it will only be decided whether or not to gray-list it,” said Pleyer.
The Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman, Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri, said in his weekly briefing last Friday that the FATF had rated Pakistan as 21 of the 27 action points under the current action plan.
“Pakistan has made significant progress on the remaining six issues, some of which are addressed, and this is duly recognized by its broader FATF membership. Pakistan remains committed to finalizing its FATF Action Plan,” he said.