FATF and Pakistan

Financial Action Task Force (FATF) had emphasized in its recent statement, that Since June 2018, when Pakistan made a high-level political commitment to work with the FATF and Asia Pacific Group (APG) to strengthen its anti-money laundering (AML)/ Combating Financing terror (CFT) regime and to address its strategic counter-terrorist financing-related deficiencies, Pakistan’s continued political commitment has led to significant progress across a comprehensive CFT action plan’. Furthermore, FATF urged Pakistan to continue work on implementing the three remaining items, first, TF investigations and prosecutions target persons and entities acting on behalf or at the direction of the designated persons or entities, Secondly TF prosecutions result in effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions and last item is effective implementation of targeted financial sanctions against all designated terrorists under UNSC resolutions 1267 and 1373, specifically those acting for or on their behalf.

Pakistan has history of remaining on the grey list of FATF, the international money laundering watch dog. First time Pakistan was placed in grey list in 2009, followed by naming in 2013. FATF exclude Pakistan from grey list in 2015, after successful operation Zarb-e-Azb against terrorist groups in FATA.

Later, in the beginning of 2018, Donald J. Trump took office of US President and sorted to coercive policy in response to Pakistan steadfast policy on Afghanistan. The infuriated Donald Trump went to penalized Pakistan through arm twisting by using the Paris based FATF platform. US along with its partners UK, Germany, France, and India moved to enlist Pakistan in FATF’s grey list in 2018. Pakistan joined the group of eight other countries on FATF grey list including Sri Lanka, Syria, Tobago, Tunisia, Yemen, Trinidad, Serbia, and Ethiopia.

After lot of efforts, Pakistan had made significant progress to meet its objectives under FATF action plan, while complying 24 items out of total 27. The remaining three items mentioned by the FATF have more importance not on technical grounds of FATF but on Political grounds set by the Pakistan’s rivals. These items call for measures in respect of investigation of cases of terror financing, prosecution by the courts and lastly complete implementation of the sanction imposed by the UN against terrorist groups including Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and ISIL etc. under UNSC resolution 1267. While UNSC 1373 calls for sharing of intelligence on terrorist groups among UN member states and ensuring formulation of strict laws under international convention of terrorism and their reflection in sever sentences to the convicted terrorists.

Pakistan had worked going out of the way to curb the terrorism in the country. Pakistan had established military courts and served death punishment to the terrorists, which has been opposed by the world. However, the FATF became more political than technical forum. US, India, and their affiliates want to see things happening in their way, which is not possible for Pakistan. However, the government must work to get out of this trap. According to the FATF’s laid down parameters, Pakistan must meet at least half of the items out the total items given under the action plan to get out of grey list. Pakistan would also need approval from 12 out of the FATF’s 39 members to exit the grey list, Pakistan have more in its plate to show, however, it must formulate a plan to escape the enemy’s trap. Pakistan must inform the US not to resist it during next plenary session of FATF in June, otherwise, Pakistan will revisit its cooperation with US in Afghanistan.