The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the top global watchdog for terror financing and money laundering, has retained Pakistan on its “grey list” for another four months, warning Islamabad to complete all the directives in its action plan by its next meeting in June 2020.“All deadlines in the action plan have expired. While noting recent and notable improvements, the FATF again expresses concern given Pakistan’s failure to complete its action plan in line with the agreed timelines and in light of the Terror Financing risks emanating from the jurisdiction,” the FATF said in a statement after its plenary session in Paris from February 19-21.
The 39-member FATF has unanimously asked Pakistan to take action on its 27-point action plan, including prosecuting top leaders of the terrorist organizations, and failing which, it will be blacklisted.The FATF members noted that Pakistan should fulfill its international obligations instead of misleading its citizens on the FATF parameters to avoid blacklisting. Reporting on the February 19 meeting, Pakistan had falsely claimed that India was humiliated twice when it called for blacklisting Islamabad without the support of FATF members.
The global watchdog had given Pakistan the September 2019 deadline to shut down all access to funding of the UN-designated terrorist groups, including Taliban, al-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad, and beef up banking security norms to prevent misuse by terrorists.“Otherwise, should significant and sustainable progress especially in prosecuting and penalizing Terror Financing not be made by the next Plenary, the FATF will take action, which could include the FATF calling on its members and urging all jurisdiction to advise their Financial Institutions to give special attention to business relations and transactions with Pakistan,” the world body said in a stern message.
The blacklist refers to the international financial sanction when countries do not adhere to the norms to curb misuse by terrorists and criminals. Currently, Iran and North Korea are the only two countries on the FATF blacklist, while the grey list has 12 countries, including Pakistan.In November 2019, FATF had extended the deadline to February after Pakistan could fulfill only four points of the action plan and urged it to “swiftly complete” the remainder on the list.
However, Pakistan has been lobbying to get off the grey list, citing actions already taken.According to a Paris official, the FATF meeting has also taken note of Islamabad’s attempt to politicize its technical process, referring to the recent statements from Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad in which they disapproved of any financial embargo on Pakistan. “Despite its best efforts, Pakistan has remained and will remain on the grey list,” a news report quoted him as saying.
Notwithstanding repeated calls for action against JeM chief Masood Azhar, wanted in India for terror attacks, remained free in Pakistan. He is wanted in the 2001 parliament attack and the 2008 Mumbai serial blasts cases. The terrorist had reportedly gone missing from the Pakistan Army’s so-called custody, days before the crucial FATF meet, said another report.
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