Conundrum of staying grey

Malik M Ashraf

CONTRARY to the expectations, FATF in its plenary session has yet again de cided to keep Pakistan on the grey list for another three months.

While noting that Pakistan had made good progress on 24 items out of 27 it has asked Pakistan to complete action on the rest of the items by June when special plenary will decide in regards to the progress made and removing the country from its grey list.

President of FATF Marcus Pleyer said “Pakistan will remain under increased monitoring. While Pakistan has taken important steps, there are three important points from 27 action points remaining to be acted upon.

There is a serious deficiency on the part of Pakistan in checking terror financing and the country is yet to demonstrate taking action against UN-designated terrorists and their associates.”

The outstanding areas identified by FATF on which further action is required include effective implementation of targeted financial sanctions (supported by a comprehensive legal obligation) against all 1,267 and 1,373 designated terrorists and those acting for or on their behalf, including preventing the raising and moving of funds, identifying and freezing assets (movable and immovable), and prohibiting access to funds and financial services.

Reportedly France the host country backed by EU member countries recommended keeping Pakistan on the grey list for an extended period.

The stance taken by France could be a consequence of the chill in relations between the two countries in the backdrop of publication of blasphemous caricatures of the holy prophet (PBUH) and reaction by Pakistan on the anti-Muslim legal and administrative measures taken by the French government.

FATF has 39 members including two regional organization European Commission and Gulf Cooperation Council.

A country needs at least 12 votes to get out of the grey list and minimum three to avoid relegation to the black list.

The issue is more political than entirely pertaining to money laundering and terror financing.

Pakistan was put on the grey list in June 2018 as a consequence of US-sponsored resolution supported by EU members.

It was actually a political move by the US to put pressure on Pakistan. India, which is member of the Asia Pacific Group of FATF, has also been fiercely lobbying to have Pakistan pushed to the black list but thanks to unflinching support by China, Turkey and Malaysia that those efforts failed to materialize.

However, keeping Pakistan on the grey list demonstrates the influence that the big powers enjoy on the international entities to have their way.

The reality is that Pakistan has been treated with discrimination as compared to India and other states which are known to support terrorist entities, particularly the former against whom Pakistan has provided a dossier to the UN and all the powers containing irrefutable evidence of her involvement in acts of state terrorism.

It is pertinent to point out that a UN report on terrorism has also expressed concern on the presence of Daesh in Indian states of Kerala and Karnatca and the American magazine ‘Foreign Policy’ in its article has also said “Indians and Central Asians Are the New Face of the Islamic State.

The itinerary of the items required to be implemented by Pakistan were also the harshest ever requirements imposed on any country placed on the grey list of the FATF.

In spite of this discriminatory treatment Pakistan has been sincerely and with dedication trying to implement the agenda given by FATF.

It has proscribed all the terrorist outfits on the UN list and also taken action against Hafiz Saeed and Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi for their involvement in terror financing.

Ever since being placed on the grey list Pakistan has promulgated several laws to check money laundering and terrorist financing which include : The Foreign Exchange Regulations (Amendment) Act, 2020, The Anti-Money Laundering (Amendment) Act, 2020, The NACTA (Amendment) Act, 2020, The Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Act, 2020, The Mutual Legal Assistance (Criminal Matters) Act, 2020, The UN Security Council (Amendment) Act, 2020, The Anti-Terrorism (Second Amendment) Act, 2020, The Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2020, The Limited Liability Partnership (Amendment) Act, 2020, The Islamabad Capital Territory Trust Act, 2020, The Control of Narcotics Substance (Amendment) Act, 2020, The Anti-Terrorism (Third Amendment) Act, 2020, The Anti-Money Laundering (Second Amendment) Act, 2020, The Islamabad Capital Territory Waqf Procedure Act, 2020, The Modaraba Companies (Floatation and Control) (Amendment) Bill, 2020 and The Cooperative Housing Society Bill, 2020.

The latest report of UN on Pakistan clearly shows how it has diligently, effectively and sincerely helped the US and international community to eliminate terrorism as a front line state in the war against terror.

This report of the UN is testimony to the fact that Pakistan was neither involved in terrorist financing nor in money laundering.

The foregoing realities and the measures adopted by Pakistan to check money laundering and terrorist financing were enough to qualify an exit from the grey list if it had been treated fairly.

However the positive outcome of the FATF proceedings so far, as also observed by the Federal Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar, is that the FATF has acknowledged 90 per cent implementation of its 27 points which has obviated the chances of Pakistan being relegated to the black list.

Nevertheless the continued placement of Pakistan on the grey list is harming economic interests of Pakistan.

The official circles are hopeful that Pakistan would be able to complete action on the remaining three points by the given deadline and manage to get out of the grey list.

One can only hope that Pakistan is ultimately treated fairly and free of global political expediencies.

— The writer is former Director General Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, based in Islamabad.

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