A big setback to Pak as it fails to come out of grey list of FATF

K S Tomar

K S Tomar

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Pak opposition slams govt for failing to exit from FATF grey list

IN A MAJOR setback to Pakistan Prime minister, Imran Khan, Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has retained this rogue state in ‘Grey List’ despite the fact that Pakistan government had hired a top lobbyist American firm to mobilize the support of 12 member nations out of 39 to come out of this black spot.

fatf

Experts say that Pakistan’s failure to fulfil six key obligations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), including action against two of India’s most wanted terrorists Maulana Masood Azhar and Hafiz Saeed, and the sudden disappearance of more than 4,000 terrorists from its official list have been responsible for its continuation in the ‘grey list’ of the Global watchdog.

They opine that FATF will meet again in Feb, 2021 to review the execution of its guidelines and Pakistan may be Blacklisted along with North Korea and Iran if it does not comply with all mandatory clauses of money laundering and funding of the terrorists from its soil.

fatf Imran Khan
Imran Khan

In August, Prime Minister, Imran Khan had warned that if blacklisted at the FATF, Pakistan’s entire economy will be destroyed due to inflation and a massive fall in Pakistani Rupee.

FATF working group held intensive discussion on Oct 21-23 in Paris about Pakistan’s claims about adherence of the actions of countering terror financing and money laundering for terrorists.

China and America have been backing and acting as Saviors of Pakistan’s actions to counter-terror financing activities despite the fact that Islamabad is yet to fully deliver on 6 out of the 27 points in the action plan. FATF noted that it has acted on 21 points but needs to fulfill obligations in toto.

Asia Pacific Group Had Recommended Keeping Pakistan In ‘Enhanced Follow Up’ List

fatf apgThe Asia-Pacific Group (APG) on Money Laundering , prior to FATF meeting, had retained Pakistan on its “Enhanced Follow-Up” list for a meager progress on technical recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to fight money laundering and terror financing.

The first Follow Up Report (FUR) on Mutual Evaluation of Pakistan released by APG — a regional affiliate of the Paris-based FATF — showed Pakistan improving its full compliance on two of the 40 FATF recommendations on the effectiveness of anti-money laundering and combating financing terror (AML/CFT) system.

“Pakistan will remain in enhanced (expedited) follow up, and will continue to report back to the APG on progress to strengthen its implementation of AML/CFT measures,” concluded the APG in its 12-page report.

Pakistan Intentionally Does Not Take Action Against JeM And Let

The mandates which Pakistan has failed include action against all UN-designated terrorists like Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Azhar, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) founder Seed and the outfit’s operational commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi.

Experts believe Pakistan was placed on the task force’s grey list last year which has made it more problematic for the government to raise money on the international bond market at a time when Pakistan’s debt crisis is weighing heavily on its economy which is already under huge liabilities of China.

Financial Action Task Force expressed “serious concerns” about what it called the lack of progress Pakistan had shown countering terrorism financing and money laundering. The FATF strongly urges Pakistan to swiftly complete its full action plan which is miserably failed.

Did Saudi Arabia Show Pakistan Its Place During Meeting Of FATF?

As per some media reports, Saudi Arabia voted against Pakistan during FATF meeting which can be attributed to highly strained relations between two nations. But Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri had rejected “false media reports” regarding Saudi Arabia’s role in the assessment of Pakistan’s FATF action plan.

The spokesperson categorically rejected the reports in a section of Press and termed them as false and baseless.

Pakistan Hires An American Lobby Firm To Evade Punishment From FATF

To prevent the action, Pakistan government has repeatedly been relying on US lobbying firms to find a way out of the FATF grey list. Some reports say Texas-based Linden Strategies has been hired by the Pakistan government to lobby with the Donald Trump administration.

Pakistan is trying to influence America through its action that it is serious to take action against terrorists groups though reality is otherwise.

Islamabad has sought the help of lobbying firm Linden Strategies which calls itself a “government relations and business development firm providing strategic analysis and advisory to domestic and international clients, including sovereign nations”.

Financial Action Task Force expressed “serious concerns” about what it called the lack of progress Pakistan had shown countering terrorism financing and money laundering . Pakistan’s Ministry of Finance, however, said it was committed to “fully implement” the watchdog’s action plan

Pak Officials Make False Claim About Checking Terrorists Activities To Impress US

Experts believe that major factor helping Pakistan evade sanctions was the continuing effort by the United States to reach a peace deal with the Afghan Taliban. Pakistani cooperation is seen as crucial to that process.

Pakistani defense officials, however, say they have cracked down on the militant networks that once operated with near freedom on the country’s soil. They claimed that Muzaffarabad, once a militant hot spot and offices once used by the groups to raise money or recruit members have been closed.

Pakistani bureaucrats were confident that measures taken by the government would prevent its blacklisting. Allies like China, Turkey, and Malaysia lent important support to Pakistan’s cause.

Pakistani officials announced that they had arrested four leaders of the militant group Jamaat-ud-Dawa for financing terrorism. Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the founder of Jamaat-ud-Dawa and another outlawed militant group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, was arrested in July and faces several terrorism financing charges.

He has been arrested and freed by local courts several times in the past, leading to accusations that Pakistan’s action against militant leaders has been superficial and meant only to temporarily placate Western concerns.

Abduction Of Senior Police Official By Army Creates Furore

One can imagine supremacy and dominance of army in Pakistan over administration from the fact that Sindh province’s top police official, Mushtaq Ahmed Mahar, had been abducted by paramilitary troops officers who coerced him into signing an order to arrest deposed PM Nawaz Sharif’s son-in-law Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar from his hotel room in Karachi.

Pakistan
Imran Khan with Gen Bajwa

Taking notice of Karachi incident, the army chief Bajwa directed Karachi Corps Commander to immediately inquire into the circumstances to determine the facts and report back as soon as possible.

The Sindh government said it had not ordered Safdar’s arrest and that the police had been pressured into taking the action.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, whose Pakistan Peoples Party rules Sindh, publicly called for the army and intelligence chiefs to probe the matter, saying the incident had “crossed a red line”.

Experts saw it as retaliation by Bajwa who was lambasted by ex PM Nawaz Sharif while addressing PDM alliance rally of eleven opposition parties which have launched agitation to oust Imran Khan from his post.

Also Read: Pakistan: Bas Ho Chuki Namaz Musalla Uthaiye

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K S Tomar

K S Tomar

The writer, a senior political analyst, is a former Editor of the Hindustan Times' Rajasthan edition and has spent nearly four decades in journalism, including a six year stint in Nepal where he covered Sino-India-Nepal complex relationship and had a ringside seat to the Himalayan Kingdom's transition into democracy.

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