Islamabad: The Asia-Pacific division of global financial watchdog, Financial Action Task Force (FATF), has put Pakistan in the Enhanced Expedited Follow Up List (Blacklist) for its failure to meet its standards, officials said. The Asia Pacific Group (APG) of FATF has also found that Pakistan was non-compliant on 32 out of 40 terror financing and money laundering compliance parameters. The FATF APG meeting was held in Canberra, Australia, and the discussions lasted more than seven hours over two days.
On 11 effective parameters of terror-funding and money-laundering, Pakistan was adjudged as low on 10. Despite its efforts, Pakistan's 10-member delegation led by its central bank chief could not convince the 41-member plenary to upgrade it on any parameter. Islamabad now is in dire need to focus on avoiding the blacklist in October, when the 15-month timeline ends on the FATF's 27-point action plan, another official said.
Pakistan has been under the FATF radar for its complicity towards terror groups LeT, JeM and others. Since June 2018, Pakistan has been on the "grey list" of countries whose domestic laws are considered weak to tackle the challenges of money laundering and terrorism financing. The watchdog had issued a staunch warning to Pakistan to curb terror financing by October or face consequences. It had said that the country could be blacklisted unless it fulfills an "action plan" against UN-designated terrorists operating on its soil by October, highly placed sources in the Indian diplomatic team had said.
India has, in the past, urged the FATF to put Pakistan on a blacklist of countries that fail to meet international standards in stopping terror funding following the listing of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist by the United Nations. During the FATF meeting, several countries, including India, voiced concern on the country’s failure to do enough to contain terror funding and having failed to take concrete action against Hafiz Saeed, Maulana Masood Azhar and other UN-designated terrorists, pointing out that its anti-terror law still remains out of sync with standards set by the international body.
Several FATF members have also raised the issue of no cases being registered against Hafiz Saeed and Azhar Masood. Although Pakistan contends that it has done enough by seizing over 700 properties belonging to the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jamaat-ud-Daawa, Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation and the Jaish-e-Mohammed, India and other FATF members have pointed out that seizures do not necessarily indicate compliance.
Pakistan’s continuance in the ‘Grey List’ means its downgrading by the IMF, the World Bank, the ADB, the EU and also a reduction in risk rating by Moody’s, S&P and Fitch. This will add to the financial problems of Pakistan, which is seeking aid from all possible international avenues.