France to evaluate Pak on terror funding objectively
During a meeting of the Asia-Pacific Group, an associate of the FATF, which ended in Beijing on Thursday, Pakistan had defended its compliance with a 27-point action plan and made efforts to be removed from the grey list, in which it was included in June 2018.Updated: Jan 25, 2020 05:33 IST
France won’t make any concessions while assessing steps taken by Pakistan to counter terror financing at a Financial Action Task Force (FATF) meeting next month, people familiar with the developments said on Friday against the backdrop of Islamabad’s efforts to be removed from the multilateral watchdog’s “grey list”.
During a meeting of the Asia-Pacific Group, an associate of the FATF, which ended in Beijing on Thursday, Pakistan had defended its compliance with a 27-point action plan and made efforts to be removed from the grey list, in which it was included in June 2018.
Reports in sections of the media suggested France had joined FATF members such as the US, the UK, Germany and Japan in not questioning the steps taken so far by Pakistan to curb terror financing and money laundering. The reports also suggested this was because of the Trump administration’s increasing reliance on Pakistan for helping broker a peace deal with the Taliban to facilitate the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.
The people cited above countered this impression by saying France is determined to combat terror financing and will assess Pakistan’s performance in implementing the action in an objective manner at the FATF’s plenary and working group meetings to be held in Paris during February 16-21.
“The meeting of the FATF’s Asia-Pacific Group held in Beijing analysed Pakistan’s situation from a technical point of view,” said a person who declined to be named.
A report on the steps taken by Pakistan to implement its action plan will be presented at the plenary meeting next month. “France is determined to continue combating money laundering and terror financing, and on this occasion, will objectively evaluate, without any concession, Pakistan’s actions,” the person said.
Meanwhile, Pakistan is looking to US backing at the plenary meeting to avert further action by the FATF. The meeting of the Asia-Pacific Group in Beijing was held as Alice Wells, the US state department’s pointperson for South Asia, visited Islamabad with a message of cooperation, The Express Tribune newspaper reported.
In informal discussions, Wells sought to dispel the impression that the US is changing the FATF’s goalposts. Wells said Pakistan’s case will be treated solely on technical grounds though the country has to ensure convictions in terror financing cases, the Tribune reported.
Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had also raised the issue of US support at the FATF during his recent visit to Washington.
During a review last October, FATF found Pakistan had delivered on only five of the 27 items in the action plan, and warned that the country could face harsher measures if it failed to comply fully by the plenary meeting. Pakistani officials have been contending that the country has now largely complied with more than 15 items.
As things stand, the people cited above said, Pakistan is not expected to get votes from 12 of the FATF’s 39 members to be moved out of the grey list. However, Pakistan needs only three votes to be kept out of the “black list” and it is assured of these votes from China, which will hold the watchdog’s presidency till June, Turkey and Malaysia, the people said.