ISLAMABAD – Reuters/UNS – A global money-laundering watchdog has decided to place Pakistan back on its terrorist financing watchlist, in a likely blow to both Pakistan’s economy and its strained relations with the United States.
Pakistan will be included in the list in June this year, sources told.
Earlier in the week China, Turkey, and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) were opposing the U.S.-led move against Pakistan but by Thursday night both China and Saudi Arabia dropped their opposition.
In a message posted on Twitter, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal said there is no official intimation of #FATF decision yet and “we should not speculate till official statement is released”. He also thanked Turkey for its support.
The move comes days after reports that Pakistan had been given a three-month reprieve before being placed on the list, which could hamper banking and hurt foreign investment.
Foreign Office spokesperson (FO) responded to the question in today’s press briefing, saying “Pakistan has serious concerns over and objections to the introduction of this new nomination procedure which is unprecedented and in clear violation of established rules/practices of FATF”. He added that most of the concerns raised by the US side regarding deficiencies in our CFT/AML regime had already been addressed in 2015 when Pakistan got an exit from the “grey list”.
On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif tweeted that Pakistan had received a 3-month reprieve, adding that it was “grateful to friends who helped”.
Washington has spent the past week lobbying member countries of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to place Pakistan on the so-called “grey list” of nations that are not doing enough to combat terrorism financing.
Pakistan was previously on the list for three years until 2015.
Pakistani officials and analysts fear being on the FATF watchlist could endanger its handful of remaining banking links to the outside world, causing real financial pain to the economy just as a general election looms in the summer.
Under FATF rules one country’s opposition is not enough to prevent a motion from being successful. Britain, France and Germany backed the U.S. move.