In a major setback for Pakistan, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which retained the country on its ‘grey list’ has handed out an 8-point list to Islamabad that its government will have to deliver upon within the next four months.
The Paris-based international terror financing watchdog has also warned Pakistan of ending up on the blacklist if it does not fulfil the requirements put forward by the global body within the four months.
Pakistan is already finalising major amendments to at least a dozen of its laws to meet the FATF requirements by June this year.
Based on that, the country’s performance would be judged in the next plenary in October 2020.
Pakistan submitted a 650-page review report to the FATF on January 8. The report was submitted in response to 150 questions raised by the FATF regarding new Pakistani policies on money laundering. The report outlined the steps taken by Pakistan between October 2019 to January 2020 to implement the group’s recommendations.
The FATF in October last decided to keep Pakistan on its ‘Grey’ list for failure to curb funnelling of funds to terror groups Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and others.
The international terror financing watchdog had noted in its meeting held in October 2019 that Pakistan addressed only five out of the 27 tasks given to it in controlling funding to terror groups like the LeT, JeM, and Hizbul Mujahideen, responsible for a series of attacks in India. The FATF strongly urged Pakistan to swiftly complete its full action plan by February 2020. In the Beijing meeting held late last year, Pakistan had provided a list of actions taken to comply with the FATF diktat.
Pakistan was placed on the “grey list” by terror financing watchdog in June 2018 and was given a plan of action to complete by October 2019 or face the risk of being placed on the blacklist along with Iran and North Korea.
Pakistan has so far successfully managed to avoid the blacklist due to diplomatic support from China, Turkey, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Middle Eastern countries.
It now requires just three votes out of a total 39 members of FATF forum to avoid falling into the blacklist.
This comes a week after an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan sentenced 2008 Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed to 11 years in jail in two terror financing cases.
The Pakistani court’s judgement came ostensibly to please the FATF and Western countries so that the country can exit the ‘grey list’.
The FATF is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 to combat money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.
The body currently has 39 members including two regional organisations — the European Commission and Gulf Cooperation Council. India is a member of the FATF consultations and its Asia Pacific Group.