US ‘strongly urges’ Pakistan to fulfill FATF commitments
The United States “strongly urges” Pakistan to fulfill its counterterrorism obligations as laid out for it by a global watchdog because the consequences of its failure would be “devastating” for its ongoing IMF-aded economic reforms, a top American diplomat said Friday.
The watchdog body, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), is meeting in Beijing currently to review Pakistan’s progress and determine if it has done enough to be elevated from the “grey list” of nations with suspect counterterrorism measures to the “black list” of the most egregious offenders.
Leaks about the secretive body’s deliberations, mostly in Pakistan media, indicate Pakistan might have fulfilled most if not all the obligations and may escape being pushed to the black list, which could imperil the 2019 IMF bailout package of $6 billion and the economic reforms tied to it.
“We strongly encourage Pakistan to work with FATF and the international community to fully satisfy its action plan commitments,” Alice Wells, principal deputy assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia, told reporters a a briefing on her recent visit to the region.
“Completion of the FATF action plan is critical to Pakistan’s economic reform efforts, including its IMF program, as well as for demonstrating sustained and irreversible action against all militant groups based in Pakistan without distinction,” she added, in an unmistakable reference to Pakistan’s well-known tendency to act against “bad terrorists”, who were inimical to its own interests, and support and finance the “good terrorists”, who serve Pakistan’s foreign policy goals of disrupting neighbors such as India and Afghanistan.
“If Pakistan were not to meet FATF obligations or were to fail and be blacklisted, that would be devastating for Pakistan’s economic reform program and for its ability to attract investors,” she added in response to a question about implications of Pakistan’s blacklisting for the IMF bailout.
The United States was instrumental in the “grey listing” of Pakistan in June 2018 by the 39-member FATF, overriding stiff resistance from China and Turkey, two of Pakistan’s close allies. Islamabad has been since working on implementing a list of conditions laid down by the watchdog to avoid being bumped up to the blacklist, and, under the most optimistic circumstances, be taken off the grey list altogether.