FATF dashes Pak hopes of getting out of grey list, then a harsh rebuke
The FATF decision to keep Pakistan in the grey list comes as a huge setback for PM Imran Khan who had even hired a top lobbyist firm on Capitol Hill to push its narrative in the United States.
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the world’s top anti-terrorism monitoring group, on Friday voted to keep Pakistan on a grey list for the Imran Khan government’s failure to fully comply with a 27-point action plan handed to it, people familiar with the matter said.
The global watchdog’s decision comes as a huge setback for PM Khan who had made efforts in the run-up to the virtual meeting of the FATF plenary to get his country off-the-hook including hiring a top lobbyist firm on Capitol Hill to push its narrative. The FATF, however, didn’t let Pakistan’s status change, mostly in view of Pakistan’s inability to substantially deliver on 6 of the 27 action points.
The “grey list” comprises countries whose controls over terrorism financing are deemed inadequate.
The FATF noted that Pakistan has made progress across all action plan items and has largely addressed 21 of the 27 action items. “As all action plan deadlines have expired, the FATF strongly urges Pakistan to swiftly complete its full action plan by February 2021,” the watchdog said.
A person familiar with the development said the watchdog had noted progress made by Pakistan to address the technical compliance deficiencies but rebuked Islamabad for slippages on other parameters and asked it to do more.
India, which bears the brunt of Pakistan’s use of terrorism as an instrument of diplomacy, had set the tone ahead of Friday’s meeting, roasting Islamabad for continuing to be a safe haven for UN Security Council designated terrorists such as Jaish-e-Mohammed chief MasoodAzhar, Lashkar-e-Taiba operations commander Zakirur Rahman Lakhvi and Dawood Ibrahim.
New Delhi had also counted 3,800 unprovoked ceasefire violations along the ceasefire line in an effort to push terrorists into Jammu and Kashmir, drop arms and smuggle weapons and narcotics across the international boundary using drones.
Pakistan was placed on the watchdog’s grey list in June 2018 after red flags were raised over its consistent failure to act against terrorist groups and plug the gaping holes in its legal framework to punish them. It has since then periodically taken some steps to demonstrate that it is making efforts.
But it has been criticised for rolling back the changes when it could. Like when it expanded the “proscribed persons data” in its Punjab province to include 7,600 names in 2018 to persuade FATF to not place Islamabad in the black list. This year, Castellum.AI, a US-based tech firm that tracks watch lists globally, noticed that Pakistan had quietly erased some 3,800 names from this list.
PM Imran Khan’s inability to pull his country out of the grey list is also seen as a failure of its diplomacy since it needed the support of 12 countries to back up its narrative that Pakistan should be given a reprieve since it was on its way to fulfill its commitments to fight terror funding.