New Delhi: Pakistan was bracing itself ahead of being formally named in the “grey list" of countries for its failure to comply with the anti-terror funding guidelines, despite repeated attempts to get Islamabad to cooperate, news reports said.
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), set up in 1989 to combat money laundering, and expanded to include combating terrorist financing in 2001, began its plenary and working group meetings in Paris on Sunday.
The decision to place Pakistan on the global money-laundering watchdog’s ‘grey-list’ was made during a FATF plenary meeting in February, but Pakistan was given time to submit its action plan for review during the 24-29 June meeting in Paris. Pakistan was, however, subject to direct monitoring and intense scrutiny by the International Co-operation Review Group on terror financing, pending further review during the June meeting.
The case against Pakistan follows its inaction against UN-banned terror groups such as the Taliban and Haqqani Network, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jamaat-ud Dawa and its affiliate Falah-i-Insaaniyat Foundation, besides terrorists including Hafiz Saeed and Masood Azhar. Saeed heads the Lashkar-e-Toiba and Azhar the Jaish, both of which target Indian security forces and interests in India and in countries such as Afghanistan. Saeed is seen as the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack.
The US, backed by Britain, Germany and France, have been leading the push to put Pakistan in the FATF “grey list". Being put on the “grey list" would mean that Pakistan will find it tough to access funds from international markets, which would put pressure on its already vulnerable economy.
Ahead of the FATF meet, Pakistan was seen as scrambling to put in place measures that will be seen as compliant with FATF requirement. For instance, on 20 June, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan issued Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Regulations, 2018, in compliance with FATF recommendations, according a report by Geo TV news channel. And on 8 June, Pakistan’s National Security Committee had reaffirmed its commitment to cooperate with FATF.
“The committee reaffirmed the commitment of the country to work with FATF and other international organisations in achieving common goals and shared objectives," a statement issued by the prime minister’s office (PMO) on the NSC meeting said, according to the Geo TV news report.
With Pakistan expected to go to the polls on 25 July to elect a new government, given that it is being administered by a caretaker government at present, Islamabad could seek more time from the FATF for full compliance, other media reports said.
The possible FATF action comes ahead of Pakistan’s Election Commission, last week, accepting the nomination papers of Talha Saeed, the son of Hafiz Saeed, who also heads the Jamaat-ud-Dawah charity in Pakistan, for contesting the 25 July national elections. According to a news report from Pakistan, Talha Saeed was among 265 candidates fielded by the Jamaat-ud-Dawah for contesting the upcoming polls on the little-known Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek’s (AAT) ticket, registered with the Election Commission of Pakistan.