Recently a report by FATF’s Asia Pacific Group says Pakistan has fully implemented only one item almost from a list of 40 measures that the country should be taking to completely curb terrorist financing and money laundering. Being blacklisted would undoubtedly be a serious blow for Imran Khan as he tries to boost its faltering economy and has been attracting foreign investment and loans.

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Sources said that Pakistan is trying to avoid getting blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force, a global watchdog, when it meets in Paris. A report has also published earlier this month by the task force’s Asia Pacific Group, which accurately monitors Pakistan’s progress, is not encouraging. The report says Pakistan has fully implemented only one item from a list of 40 measures that the country should be taking to curb terrorist financing and money laundering. The other 39 measures were either partially implemented or in some cases overlooked entirely. It is to understand that Iran and North Korea are currently the only two countries on the blacklist.

Being categorised in the blacklist would be a serious blow for Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan as he tries to boost its faltering economy and attract foreign investment and loans. Here it is reported that Pakistan got a mixed review for its efforts to completely eradicate terrorist financing and money laundering as it actually tries to avoid getting blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force along with a global watchdog, when it meets on Wednesday in Paris.

Now a point to understand here is – Just as Pakistan has been trying to get on its feet financially, having secured almost $6 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund and at the same time a $6 billion package from Saudi Arabia, it might get knocked down by putting on this list.

It would no longer be business as usual in Pakistan said Amir Rana, director of the Islamabad-based Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies.

What is FATF?

The Financial Action Task Force –FATF- is an inter-governmental body established in the year 1989 by the Ministers of its Member jurisdictions.  The objectives of the FATF are to set higher standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for fully combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats completely to the integrity of the international financial system.  The FATF is therefore a -policy-making body- that actually works to generate the necessary political will in order to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in these areas.

The FATF has developed a series of the important recommendations that are recognised as the international standard for combating of money laundering and at the same time the financing of terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  They form the perfect basis for a co-ordinated response to these threats to the integrity of the financial system and help ensure a level playing field.  First issued in 1990 that the FATF Recommendations were revised in 1996, 2001, 2003 and most importantly in 2012 to ensure that they remain completely updated and relevant, and they are intended to be of universal application too.

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The FATF monitors deeply the progress of its members in implementing necessary measures, reviews money laundering and terrorist financing techniques and at the same time counter-measures and promotes the adoption and implementation of appropriate and wise measures globally. 

FATF Blacklist:

Being blacklisted could even bring a huge loss to Pakistan’s multi-billion dollar part in China’s Belt and also to the Road Initiative, a global endeavor aimed at reconstituting the Silk Road and linking China to all the corners of Asia. In Pakistan, it has been billed as a huge development program that will bring new prosperity and dimensions to the South Asian nation where an average citizen lives on just $125 a month.

But if Pakistan gets blacklisted, every financial transaction would be deeply scrutinized, and at the same time doing business in Pakistan would become costly and cumbersome. He said complete restrictions could be well imposed on international lending agencies that will include the International Monetary Fund, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank which are all key money lenders to Pakistan.

It is also stated that Pakistan hasn’t made the institutional changes and it needs to seriously tackle terrorism financing and the terrorist-declared groups that still operate in Pakistan where some of whom have been resurrected under new names.

He equally blamed police and bureaucratic incompetence, mismanagement and a conflicted military and some intelligence apparatus. These security agencies are still undecided about few things that whether to break all ties with groups they have long considered -assets-particularly against neighbouring India who is Pakistan’s longtime nemesis.

At one particular juncture Rana said that Pakistan had sought to actually differentiate between what it considered bad and worse groups. Authorities have significantly   put anti-India groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba in the less dangerous category, and at the same time put groups like al-Qaida, Tehrik-e-Taliban and the Baluchistan Liberation Army on the higher dangerous list.

If Pakistan’s security establishment was somewhere serious about breaking ties then Rana added to it that it needs to lay out a plan of action and it is the one that details a reintegration plan for members of these groups as well as a well planned strategy of how it would arrest and prosecute those who carry out acts of terror in other countries.

Pakistan’s foreign minister -Shah Mahmood Qureshi- told reporters that the economic affairs minister Hammad Azhar was already in Paris preparing for the meeting. Pakistan’s State-run television on Monday said Azhar presented Pakistan’s case to the task force ahead of its deliberations starting Wednesday.

Meanwhile Qureshi also accused neighboring India of completely lobbying to get his country blacklisted. India has tried its best to get us blacklisted. By the grace of God you will see that all such efforts will fail. Pakistan has reportedly lobbied to both the countries Turkey and Malaysia to seek an extension at the task force meeting, promising to be 100% compliant by June 2020. In the meantime Qureshi said to the government that has spent the last 10 months taking steps to eradicate both money laundering and terror financing business. But the job that has to be done is a big one.

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