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FM questions FATF decision to retain Pakistan on grey list

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ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Saturday questioned the decision of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to keep the country on its grey list until the implementation of two separate action plans to counter terrorist financing and money laundering.
In a statement on Saturday, Qureshi said that there is no room to keep Pakistan in the grey list after it has implemented 26 out of 27 action plans of the Financial Action Task Force. He said it has to be determined whether the FATF is a technical forum or a political one. He said it also needs to be looked into whether this forum is being used for political purposes.
The foreign minister said that some powers desire to keep the sword of FATF hanging over Pakistan. He said the FATF itself has accepted that Pakistan has implemented 26 out of 27 action plans whereas significant progress has been made on the 27th one.
Qureshi made it clear whatever steps Pakistan took were in its own interests. He said, “It is in our interest to stop money laundering and terror financing.”
“I think in this situation, there is no justification to keep Pakistan on the grey list,” Qureshi said in a statement. However, he maintained that the country would take all necessary measures in its national interest to curb money laundering and terror financing.
Pakistan was placed on the FATF’s “grey list” of countries with weak and vulnerable financial systems that could be exploited by terrorist groups and criminal elements.
The FATF President Dr Marcus Pleyer on Friday admitted in a virtual press conference that Islamabad had made “significant progress” and largely addressed 26 out of 27 items on the 2018 action plan. However, he maintained there was one last item on the list that still needed to be addressed which concerned the “investigation and prosecution of senior leaders and commanders of UN-designated terror groups.”
The country was also handed another seven-point action plan to be implemented along with the original 27 points to exit the grey list.
Dr Vaqar Ahmed, a senior economist and joint executive director at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), said Pakistan is suffering financially for being on the FATF’s grey list as the country is not receiving long-term foreign investments.
“The FATF is apparently now asking Pakistan to initiate action against specific individuals of some proscribed outfits before being whitelisted,” he said. He suggested that the government should step up diplomacy and engage with all members of the global financial watchdog instead of just relying on a handful of countries to exit the grey list.
“We will have to be consistent and proactive in our diplomacy to get off the grey list,” he said. – TLTP