Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Pakistan To Stay In Grey List After Warning By FATF

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India targeted some forward posts and ‘terrorist launch pads’ in Pakistan occupied Kashmir, after Pakistan violated the ceasefire along the Line of Control. Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said, several Pakistani soldiers and terrorists were killed during retaliatory strikes by Indian forces.

Pakistani has been violating the ceasefire, especially after the revocation of Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir. Islamabad has miserably failed to engage the international community on the Kashmir issue and is thus resorting to ceasefire violations and infiltration bids into Indian territory. But, its attempts are being successfully thwarted by the Indian security forces.

Meanwhile, the Financial Action Task Force, FATF, at its plenary in Paris has unanimously decided to continue keeping Pakistan in its ‘grey list’, till February 2020. It has thus given Pakistan 4 more months to take swift, strong and effective measures to deal with terror financing and money laundering by terrorists and their organizations. The extension came after a stern warning to Pakistan to complete the full action plan by February next year. In a statement, FATF said “if significant and sustainable progress is not made across the full range of its action plan, it would take action including putting the country in black list and curbing financial and business relations with Pakistan”.

FATF indicted Pakistan for not meeting global standards. It also made it clear that Pakistani measures against terror funding are unsatisfactory as Islamabad had acted only in 5 of the 27 items mandated by FATF. It was noted that terror financing to outfits like Lashkar-e Taiba and the Jaish-e Mohammad, responsible for several attacks in India, had not been controlled.

Pakistan survived being put in the black list as three member countries China, Malaysia and Turkey wanted to give Pakistan one more chance to mend its ways. The FATF rules require the support of at least three of its 39 members to avoid a country being put in the black list. So far, only two countries North Korea and Iran have been black listed by FATF. Such a step would mean immediate sanctions and would deprive Islamabad from obtaining loans from the IMF, the World Bank and European Union; besides other financial institutions. All three countries, however, agreed to issue an enhanced warning to Pakistan. Even the Chinese representative and current FATF chairman, said “Pakistan needs to do more and faster. Failure to fulfill FATF global standards is taken seriously. If by February 2020 Pakistan doesn’t make significant progress it will be put in the blacklist”

Pakistan was put in the grey list in June 2018 after the FATF took a serious view of its involvement in terror financing. Since then, periodical reviews have refused to take it out of the grey list.

Islamabad has been making efforts to convince the FATF that it is taking serious action to curb terror financing. Pakistan Foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has been very vocal in making tall claims at different national and international forums.

The reprieve indicates that the world community is trying its best to give Pakistan every opportunity to fall in line and take visible, verifiable and decisive action against terror funding and money laundering by terror outfits. Unfortunately that has not happened so far.   

India has been a victim of Pakistan’s unending cross border terror. New Delhi has called for stronger action against Islamabad, which was forcefully supported by all other members including the US. India pointed out that despite an ostensible freezing of accounts of terror outfits; Jiash-e Mohammad Chief Masood Azhar was allowed to withdraw money from his bank accounts. This only indicates that Pakistan has been hoodwinking the world on the war against terror.

The world will now be keenly watching what action Pakistan takes in response to FATF’s enhanced warning. It will be  in Pakistan’s own interest  to take the warning seriously and act,  if it really wants to come out of the grey list and pave the way for the country’s development.

Script: Ashok Handoo, Political Commentator.

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