Pak likely to stay in FATF grey list over inadequacy in curbing terror
Pakistan is expected to be retained in the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) “grey list” at an upcoming meeting of the multilateral watchdog as it hasn’t made adequate progress in countering terror financing, diplomats of two European countries have said.
The working group and plenary meetings of FATF in Paris from February 16 to 21 will assess the implementation of a 27-point action plan by Pakistan, which was placed in the grey list in June 2018 for failing to stop fund raising by groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), Taliban and al-Qaeda.
“The available information suggests Pakistan has taken some steps to bring its terror financing and money laundering laws in line with international obligations and to improve its legal structures,” said a diplomat from a European country that was closely involved in the efforts which led to Pakistan being included in the grey list.
“But it hasn’t done enough to prosecute or convict terrorists, including those sanctioned by the UN, for their involvement in terror financing. It is expected to stay in the grey list,” said the diplomat who declined to be named. He added the latest analysis showed Pakistan was fully or partially compliant with only 14 of the 27 points in the action plan.
A diplomat from a second European nation that closely tracks Pakistan’s efforts to end terror financing, too, said the country is expected to stay in the grey list till the next FATF plenary meeting in October as it hasn’t done enough to implement the action plan.
Indian officials declined to comment on the matter.
However, diplomats from both European nations contended that there has been a softening of the US position on Pakistan’s case at FATF, and they attributed this to Washington’s hope that Islamabad will play a role in arranging a deal with the Taliban. Such a deal is crucial for US plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, preferably before the American presidential election later this year.
“It seems the US is trying to encourage Pakistan to help in Afghanistan by going softer at FATF,” said the diplomat from the second European nation, who also declined to be named.
In recent weeks, Pakistan has stepped up diplomatic efforts to be taken off the FATF’s grey list, with foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi telling a news briefing in Washington on January 17 that the country hopes the US will back its efforts to get off the watch list.
At a news briefing in Washington on January 24, Alice Wells, the Trump administration’s pointsperson for South Asia, appeared more conciliatory about Pakistan’s case at FATF. Speaking after a recent visit to India and Pakistan, she said the US appreciates steps taken by Pakistan to advance the Afghan peace process and also welcomed efforts by Islamabad to “meet its counterterrorism financing obligations under FATF”.
Pointing to progress in the relations with Pakistan, including President Donald Trump’s “warm and constructive meeting with Prime Minister [Imran] Khan at Davos to the restoration of the International Military Education and Training” programmes, she added: “We’ve been pleased to see progress by Pakistan towards fulfilling FATF obligations.”
As things stand, Pakistan needs the support of only three of FATF’s 39 members to stay out of the “black list”, and it sure to get the votes of China, which holds the watchdog’s presidency till June, Malaysia and Turkey.