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FATF disappointment


Pakistan has barely escaped being put on the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) ‘grey list’. Turkey was the sole country to wholeheartedly support Pakistan authorities. Pakistan’s friends Turkey, China and Saudi Arabia had helped defeat the grey listing move.

The US, which had initiated efforts to place this country on the watch list, succeeded in calling for a second vote, leading to a three-month respite, during which time Pakistan will have to work with FATF to prepare an action plan to remove shortcoming.

The allegation was that Pakistan did not take action against the individuals designated as terrorists by a UN Security Council resolution, and that Jamaatud Daawa and Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation were being allowed to operate in the country, and the man behind them, Hafiz Saeed, was free to organize rallies and raise funds.

The US has been acting at the request of its strategic partner, India, which blames Pakistan-based individuals and groups for its troubles in Occupied Kashmir.

The people of Pakistan have withstood very much on account of terrorism perpetrated by extremist elements. Government candidly adopted patience against terrorism in all its forms. No militant outfit must be allowed to reinvent its identity under the guise of charitable work.

At the first meeting of FATF China and Saudi Arabia had voted against the US-led European motion to put Pakistan on the grey list, during the second vote the two countries stayed silent. Now the only alternative is to clean Pakistan of all forms of militancy, terrorism and extremism. The civilians have worsened the crisis in national security policymaking.

The government has decided to carry out an ‘internal review’ to look into the circumstances and reasons that led to Pakistan’s inclusion in the list of countries, which have not taken adequate measures to stop terror financing.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in its recent meeting in Paris decided to place Pakistan on the watch-list from this summer, although the formal announcement would be made in June after Pakistan submits its plan of action to curb terror financing.

The inclusion of Pakistan in the ‘grey-list’ is seen as a major hurdle as Pakistan failed to convince that it had taken enough measures against the terror financing. A detailed internal review to look into all aspects and find out what exactly went wrong.

Pakistan called the US-sponsored move as ‘politically motivated” and aimed at subverting its economic progress. The move was part of the Trump administration’s overall strategy to put pressure on Pakistan to do more in the fight against terrorism.

The outcome left Pakistani authorities in a quandary and the government has still not come up with any official reaction yet. It may be that Pakistan would be placed on the FATF’s terror financing global watch-list from June, but would not offer any comment on the record.

Pakistan moved upward a major diplomatic offensive soon after the US moved a motion before the FATF to place it on the global terror financing watch list. Prime Minister’s Adviser on Finance Miftah Ismail visited key western capitals to amass their support. Other ministers also quietly travelled to FATF-member countries.

The US managed to successfully persuade Saudi Arabia to withdraw its support for Pakistan, while China largely maintained sober silence.

Pakistan would not have been facing all this had it handled the FATF and overall security issues properly. For example, just days before the FATF meeting, the government amended the Anti-Terrorism Act banning all militant outfits that are declared terrorists under the United Nations Security Council resolution. But even that has done little to help Pakistan’s cause. The FATF decision is a serious blow to Pakistan’s already crippled international image. It is caustic that a country that sacrificed both in terms of men and material in the war on terror has been placed on the watch list.

There is no denying the fact that there exist certain strategic reasons behind this move by the US. India is using proxies against Pakistan. But that does not mean we resort to same tactics. If our policymakers realize and understand this, most of our problems will be solved even without taking a single step.

There are fears that if Pakistan’s new action plan to fight terrorism financing does not deliver, this will weaken the country’s economy. It is confirmed that the FATF has decided to place Pakistan on the grey list in June. Pakistan will submit a new action plan on fighting terrorism financing in May.

The FATF, after placing the country on its grey list in June, will see to it how effectively Pakistan is enacting that plan. India so eagerly wanted Pakistan’s immediate placement on the FATF watch list has made matter worse.

The US is disappointed in Afghanistan whereas on the other hand India is more closely aligned to the US foreign policy than ever before, and would like to see Pakistan isolated.

There is panic that if Pakistan’s new action plan on fighting terrorism financing does not deliver even after being placed on the FATF Watchlist, this will demoralize the country’s economy.