FATF and Pakistan

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Malik Ashraf

FOR quite some time now a debate has been raging in the country about the possibility of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) an international watch-dog against money laundering and terror financing— putting Pakistan on the grey list or even the black list due to some inadequacies in its legal and regulatory regimes to prevent money laundering and terror financing. In view of the deteriorating relations with US and her continued strategy to keep Pakistan under pressure notwithstanding the fact that it had taken indiscriminate action against all the terrorist outfits based at North Waziristan and having suffered the most in this war, it was very much expected that it would also use its influence on the international organizations such as FATF to keep Pakistan on the tenterhooks. The reality is that Pakistan has done everything within its power not only to dismantle the infrastructure of all the militant outfits but has also taken all administrative and legal measures to dry up the sources of funding to the terrorist entities. The FATF next meeting is going to be held in Paris later this month. The first ever NSC meeting presided by the caretaker Prime Minister retired Justice Nasir ul Mulk deliberated on the issue on Friday last to review the measures taken so far by the country to meet the requirements of the FATF. The meeting while reaffirming Pakistan’s commitment to work with the FATF and other international organizations in achieving common goals and shared objectives also expressed satisfaction over the administrative and legal steps taken towards fulfilling the international obligations under FATF framework.
It may be pointed out that earlier this year the FATF had raised certain objections and highlighted a few deficiencies in Pakistan’s anti-money laundering and anti-terror financing regimes and referred it to the watch-list asking Islamabad to provide further information on steps taken in this regard in the next meeting so that it could take a decision in regards to whether to put Pakistan on the grey list or otherwise. The committee rightly decided to share the relevant information with the agency in its next meeting after the Finance Minister Shamshad Akhtar gave a detailed presentation about the upcoming meeting of the FATF and the progress made to settle the observations of the agency earlier this year. It would perhaps be pertinent to mention that Pakistan has already promulgated a Presidential Ordinance to amend the anti-terror legislation in order to include all UN-listed individuals and groups in the national listings of proscribed outfits and persons. It is understood that the government has also chalked out a comprehensive plan to eradicate terrorist financing which would be shared with the international body in the next meeting. It would perhaps be pertinent to point out that in addition to taking legal and administrative measures to squeeze the sources of funding to the terrorists outfits, the government of Pakistan through the ministry of Information and Broadcasting has been running a campaign through the media to educate the people about giving their donations to charities and religous organizations by exercising utmost discretion about their credentials, which has had quire an impact.
The skepticism being expressed regarding Pakistan’s commitment in that regard is logically and factually wrong. The scourge of terrorism has affected Pakistan more than any other country in terms of the lives lost and the economic losses. So logically speaking the continued skepticism expressed by the US, its allies and the international agencies under their influence is not justified. Pakistan will be the last country not to take all possible measures to get rid of the menace. Pakistan is doing it to protect its own interests and it does not need to be coerced or intimidated by any international agency or power to do so. The pressure being exerted on Pakistan is also factually wrong in view of what it has done in North Waziristan and its unilateral decision to fence the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan to prevent cross-border movement of the terrorists. Its record on promoting Afghan-led and Afghan owned reconciliation in Afghanistan is also a ranting testimony of its sincerity and commitment to tackle terrorism and ending the conflict in that country.
The US and its allies instead of blaming Pakistan for its failures in Afghanistan need to review their own policies and actions which are responsible for their failure to establish peace in Afghanistan and the elimination of terrorism in the region. If the US is really interested in elimination of terrorism and feels that Pakistan has a vital role in that regard then it has to adopt a realistic approach and instead of unnecessarily putting it under pressure it should accept the ground realities and assist her in the efforts to eliminate terrorism. It is a fight which can be won only through collective efforts of the international community and the US showing real commitment in that regard. The new policy on Afghanistan and South Asia announced by Trump is a perfect recipe for disaster and perpetuation of the conflict in Afghanistan as is quite evident from exponential increase in terrorist attacks by the Taliban and its affiliate bodies ever since its announcement. If the US and its allies expect Pakistan to play a role, they shall also have to be mindful of Pakistan’s strategic interests as well and remove the scepter of skepticism and mistrust against the country.
— The writer is freelance columnist based in Islamabad.

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