US-led move to put Pakistan on FATF’s terror-financing watchlist reprived

  • Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif thanks friend countries who helped at FATF
Pakistan

PARIS – Pakistan remained successful to woo its ‘friends’ as a US-sponsored motion to place Pakistan on a terror-financing watchlist maintained by Financial Action Task Force was reprieved due to lack of consensus.

A meeting of the global watchdog’s member states kicked off earlier this week and it was expected that a US resolution, which was being backed by Germany, France, Britain, to put Pakistan on FATF’s grey list by ignoring its efforts to weed out terrorism.

The list is maintained for identifying countries, which are failed to take appropriated steps to curb money-laundering and terror financing.

The major development was announced by Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif through a tweet, thanking friends who helped in this situation. He said that the motion has been deferred for three months, while the Asia Pacific Group has been asked to present another report in June.

Asif said “our efforts paid [off]” and that the convening states agreed to “proposing 3months pause &asking APG [Asia Pacific Group] for another report to be considered in June”.

“Grateful to friends who helped,” the minister added.

According to sources, the motion was postponed after China, Turkey, and Russia, all of whom are part of global watchdog, opposed it. The motion was set to be tabled in FATF for voting on Wednesday, but the plan has been dropped due to

The development is followed by Pakistan’s recent measures against the organisation, sanctioned by the United Nations, in Pakistan. Pakistani authorities recently took strict measures against Hafiz Saeed-led Jamaat-ud-Dawa by taking over its charities and madrassahs.

Last Friday, President Mamnoon Hussain approved an ordinance amending the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, tightening a noose around terrorist individuals and organisations listed by the United Nations Security Council.

Pakistan suspects India’s hand behind the US-sponsored resolution as Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance Dr Miftah Ismail recently lamented that the FATF was used for political purposes.

According to the financial sector experts, any move to place Pakistan on the watch-list would enhance scrutiny level of the financial transactions that the country’s banking sector would undertake with the rest of the world.

This will increase the cost of opening letter of credits (LC) for trade purposes. The negative decision by FATF will have the force to affect the international credit ratings, which will in turn increase cost of borrowings for the government.

At present, the 11 jurisdictions are on the high risk and monitoring list of the FATF, which include North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Ethiopia. Pakistan was on the FATF grey list from 2009 to 2015.

“The measure to blacklist Pakistan is part of a propaganda to economically destabilise our country,” Pakistan’s Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal said on Monday.

On Feb 16, US State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said at a press briefing that a resolution to place Pakistan on the global terror-financing watch list had been submitted to the FATF. The spokesperson explained that the US had been concerned about Pakistan’s actions for a long time.

“We have therefore decided that we want to place Pakistan on an international watch list. Further details about the matter are confidential, and cannot be revealed at the moment,” Nauert informed.

Reacting to the US move, the Foreign Office (FO) said Pakistan has serious concerns regarding the American resolution.

At his weekly media briefing, FO spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal said: “such motions are aimed at hampering the economic growth of Pakistan.”

The spokesperson stressed that Pakistan remains committed to combating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and the ongoing terrorist-combating operations by the Pakistan military are proof of the country’s commitment towards combating this menace.