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FATF meeting to review US sponsored anti-Pakistan move

LONDON -UNS : An important week-long plenary session of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global anti-money laundering monitoring group, beginning today in Paris to review resolution to put Pakistan on ‘Grey List’.

The move jointly made by United States and United Kingdom to put Islamabad on watch list is also supported by France and Germany. There are grave implications if Pakistan is added to the list of countries deemed non-compliant with terrorist financing regulations by the FATF.

The government is working hard to convince other members of the group of the steps that Pakistan has taken to tackle terrorism. It sent acting Finance Minister Miftah Ismail and State Minister Owais Leghari to friendly countries in the 37-member group to apprise them of recent measures against Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad, Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation.

The FATF, in its Nov 2017 meeting in Beunos Aires, had put Pakistan on notice for terror financing. It also sought a compliance report by February 2018 on action taken against terror groups such as LeT and JuD.

China, Russian and Turkey are understood to be satisfied with the steps taken by Pakistan to combat terrorism in the country.

Officials fear it would be harder and more expensive for Pakistan to borrow money from international debt markets if it was put on the FATF monitoring list. Pakistan believes that the US has been taking a lot of steps and making statement on behalf of India in relation to Hafiz Saeed and others.

Meanwhile, Pakistan blamed some of the FATF members for political maneuvering and said their real aim was to hamper its economic progress and put it on the Grey List when they meet in Paris on February 20.

Also, the government officially admitted for the first time that the US, the UK, France and Germany had nominated Pakistan to be placed on the Grey List of FATF, while also expressing serious concerns over the introduction of this new procedure, which is unprecedented and in clear violation of established rules/practices of FATF.

The government says all these steps are being taken to raise an alarm over the overall integrity of Pakistan’s Anti-Money Laundering and Combating Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) framework.

There has been criticism in Pakistan itself from some quarters that it is only for avoiding the Grey List that the government on Monday endorsed the United Nations’ list of banned terrorist organisations by extending the ban on those groups that exist in Pakistan itself.

Pakistan’s Mutual Evaluation is yet to be completed, and the blame game against Islamabad has started.

“India is also very active in lobbying against Pakistan, and around February 20 in Paris, we will know how many more of these 37 FATF countries have also decided to join the above four countries, and others who have decided to support Pakistan”, a senior official told The News.

The Foreign Office spokesman expressed Pakistan’s annoyance while telling the weekly media briefing that, “While the Asia Pacific Group (APG) was analysing our report, on January 20, 2018, the US and UK jointly submitted a letter to the FATF, nominating Pakistan for placement on the Grey List. France and Germany subsequently joined this nomination.

He added that since 2015 time and again the goal-posts had been shifted for reporting by Pakistan. Pakistan is not a member of FATF.

Pakistan’s Mutual Evaluation is conducted by the Asia Pacific Group (APG). FATF can take punitive measures against any country for non-compliance by issuing a public statement (black/grey list).

“This has made it into a never-ending monitoring process. The objective of raising these new issues seems to be to suddenly raise an alarm over the overall integrity of Pakistan’s AML/CFT framework. The initiation of this action without waiting for completion of Pakistan’s Mutual Evaluation is designed to manipulate the FATF process”, added the spokesman.

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