NEW DELHI: Pakistan’s actions on curbing terrorist financing will come under the scanner as the inter-governmental Financial Action Task Force (FATF) that looks at effective implementation of regulations to combat money laundering and terrorist financing globally began a week-long meet on Sunday in Orlando, US.
The meeting, the last plenary before Pakistan-friendly China assumes the chair of the FATF, is to consider whether to keep Pakistan on the “grey" list or downgrade it to the “black" list that includes countries such as North Korea.
India, on its part, will press for the downgrading given Pakistan’s support to terrorist groups inimical to India, said a government official who did not wish to be named.
On the eve of the FATF meeting, a report in the Indian Expresssaid Pakistan had warned a few days ago the Indian high commission in Islamabad and the USof a possible car bomb attack in Kashmir’s Pulwama region, where a similar attack on 14 February claimed the lives of 40 Indian paramilitary personnel and inflamed tensions between India and Pakistan. The Indian foreign ministry and the Pakistan high commission in New Delhi did not comment on the report. When asked, the official cited above did not confirm or deny the report but said India is expected “to focus on Pakistan’s record vis-a-vis terrorist activities directed against India" at the 16-21 June Orlando meet.
Pakistan has been on FATF’s grey list since last year. Last June, Islamabad had committed to work with the FATF to strengthen its anti-money laundering and combating terrorist financing regimes. Pakistan and the FATF had then mutually agreed on a monitoring of indicators under a 10-point action plan, with specific deadlines, according to two people familiar with the development. The plan included curbing finances of terror outfits such as the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the Falahi-Insaniyat, the Lashkar-e-Toiba, the Jaish-e-Mohammed, the Haqqani Network and the Afghan Taliban.
The FATF was critical of Pakistan in a February statement stating “Given the limited progress on action plan items due in January 2019, the FATF urges Pakistan to swiftly complete its action plan, particularly those with timelines of May 2019."
In a more recent report, the Asia Pacific Group (APG) within the FATF that looked into Pakistan’s compliance, said Islamabad was falling short. “We believe that Pakistan has not done all what it needs to do" said a representative of an APG country. “There have been some actions by Pakistan but we are not sure they are lasting measures," said the representative who did not want to be named.
To move out of the “grey list", Pakistan needs the support of at least 15 of FATF’s 36 voting members. To prevent a “black listing", it needs three votes. Staying in the “grey list" means Pakistan will find it difficult to source foreign investments. Last month, Islamabad negotiated a new $6 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund to bail itself out of a balance-of-payments crisis. A downgrade to FATF’s “black list" means a further economic squeeze.
India on its part has sought “verifiable" and “irreversible" action from Pakistan on terrorist groups targeting it.