Pakistan Goes ‘All-Out’ To Evade FATF Blacklisting Backed By India

Will Pakistan be blacklisted by FATF or will Islamabad be able to convince the members that it has done enough to prevent money laundering and cut support to terror organizations? According to top officials, Pakistan must commence a vigorous diplomatic campaign to garner enough support to come out of the FATF greylist or restrict itself from falling into the blacklist of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) next month.

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The official’s remarks came after a strong Pakistani delegation attended a two-day meeting of the Asia-Pacific Group (APG) of the Paris-based global watchdog FATF in Guangzhou, China where it endorsed Pakistan’s efforts against money laundering and terror financing.

The official, who participated in the APG meeting in Guangzhou last week, told the media that Pakistan has taken bold measures in the last two months in view of the coming FATF Plenary and Working Group meetings in Orlando, Florida, scheduled for June 16-21.

The Orlando plenary will actually set the stage for Pakistan’s future even though a formal announcement would come out at the next FATF plenary due in Paris on October 18-23, he said.

While speaking to Pakistan Media – Dawn, the official said, “We believe we have generally delivered on the technical side i.e legal and administrative action, regulations, monitoring, enforcement and inter-agency and stakeholder coordination and now require more of the diplomatic push to counter the adversaries.”

He said Prime Minister Imran Khan was expected to get a briefing on the Guangzhou meeting and on the way forward on Monday. The official said it was expected that Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mehmood Qureshi would now coordinate with stakeholders on a strategy to reach out to nations around the globe.

The task is difficult as the US-India grouping which has greater influence in the international Arena and on the non-aligned members of the FATF prefer to abstain than siding with Pakistan.

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According to the report, Pakistan requires about 15-16 votes to move out of the greylist and a minimum of three votes to avoid the blacklist.

The FATF currently comprises 36 members with voting powers and two regional organisations, representing most of the major financial centres in all parts of the globe.

The FATF plenary had formally placed Pakistan in the grey list in June 2018 after the country could not secure a minimum of three votes. On May 3, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said India will ask the FATF to put Pakistan on a blacklist of countries that fail to meet international standards in stopping financial crime.

China is set to secure the FATF presidency next year while Saudi Arabia representing the Gulf Cooperation Council is to become a full FATF member. Turkey was the only member that stood by Pakistan despite a strong campaign launched by the US, the UK, India and Europe.

Pakistan’s seriousness to act against proscribed terror outfits and its efforts to curb money laundering and terror financing were questioned by members of a regional affiliate of the FATF at the Guangzhou meeting.

The official said the Pakistani delegation presented a robust case before the APG panel on the country’s progress on the 10-point action plan committed with the global watchdog despite tough questioning from some participants.

The APG would now submit its findings, based on Pakistan’s report and question-answer session, to the FATF in its June 16-21 Plenary and Working Group meetings in the United States.