NEW DELHI :
Australia has indicated it will support keeping Pakistan in the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF’s) ‘grey list’ of countries that need to do more to curb terrorist financing. The stand comes just weeks ahead of a key meeting of the Paris-based global finance watchdog.
Speaking to reporters, Australia’s outgoing high commissioner to India Harinder Sidhu also said that the decision that the Australian delegation will take at the Paris meeting of FATF next month will be based on technical evaluation of the steps Pakistan has taken to be taken of the grey list.
In a meeting of FATF’s Asia Pacific Group in Beijing earlier this month, Pakistan had presented a compliance report that, news reports said, the 39-member grouping was satisfied with. China, the host of the meeting and Pakistan’s all weather friend praised Islamabad’s efforts to curb financing for terrorist groups based on its soil, while countries such as the US and others did not question the compliance report, the news reports said.
Australia’s “approach to the FATF has been to take a very technical approach because that is the most objective way to assess what we are to do. We really want to have a good outcome, which means that Pakistan complying with the requirements that are imposed on it," according to Sidhu.
“We assess Pakistan’s progress in objective terms against where it has got to thus far. We have continued to support the grey listing because our assessment on a technical basis has been that it has not met the requirements," she said. “That’s not to say that if Pakistan were to actually improve its performance that we would not consider differently but at this stage that is where we are."
Sidhu said India-Australia ties are on a firm footing and “India should hope for no better friend than Australia". She also indicated that Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who was to visit India earlier this month but postponed his trip due to the bush fires in his country, could make the visit soon. A high-level trade team headed by Australian trade minister Simon Birmingham is to visit India next month.