Stigma of ‘grey list’

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DESPITE the fact that Pakistan has implemented almost all recommendations to qualify for its exit from the so-called ‘grey list’ of countries, the latest meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the Paris-based global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog, has retained the country’s position and decided to add the United Arab Emirates to its increased monitoring list (grey list), of countries with inadequate controls over terrorism financing.

However, at the concluding session of its hybrid plenary meeting on Friday, the meeting also appreciated Pakistan’s robust progress on its global commitments to fight financial crimes.

Pakistan was placed on the list in 2018 and given targets to achieve to become eligible for removal of its name from the grey list and the progress made in this regard has always been appreciated by the Task Force.

The country’s seriousness to implement these recommendations is evident from the fact that there are just two unmet targets out of 34 action points but its status remains unchanged, apparently to maintain the pressure for fuller implementation.

The meeting itself noted that since June 2018 — when Pakistan made a high-level political commitment to work with the FATF and APG to strengthen its anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime and to address its strategic counter-terrorist financing-related deficiencies — the country’s continued political commitment had led to significant progress across a comprehensive CFT action plan.

Pakistan had completed 26 of the 27 action items in its 2018 action plan of the FATF and of the seven action items of the 2021 action plan of the watchdog’s Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) ahead of the deadlines.

Pakistan has made remarkable progress towards implementation of the given targets and also expressed its commitment at the highest level to realize the remaining targets as well but it is now quite clear that the FATF is posturing mainly on political considerations because of vested interests of some of its influential members.

As the stigma of the grey list is harming economic interests of the country, all out efforts should be made to comply with all the requirements in the shortest possible time, which requires closer coordination among relevant ministries and institutions.

 

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