FATF’s hanging sword
It appears that international community and particularly the United States (US) is not satisfied with the robust administrative actions which had been taken against the proscribed organisations in the shape freezing their bank accounts, talking over their schools, hospitals and charity facilities in addition to the leaders of these organisations. The visiting US delegation has asked Pakistan to take more concrete and once for all end result oriented administrative and legal measures against these organisations to choke financing from informal channels to the banned outfits if it wants exit from the grey list in which the country was included in June last year in Paris meeting of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) meeting. The message was conveyed by the US delegation to the Prime Minister’s Advisor on Finance, Dr. Abdul Hafiz Sheikh during discussion with him on Wednesday.
Getting out of the greylist has also been described inevitable twice by the Islamabad based representative of International Monetary Fund (IMF) Ms Teresa Daban Sanchez in her speeches at Sustainable Development Policy Institute and at National Press Club for smooth disbursement of $ 6 billion loans of this multilateral lending agency. The IMF letter of comfort is a mandatory requirement for obtaining economic assistance from other multilateral lending institutions including the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and acquiring private finances from the global market.
In May this year a Pakistani delegation led by former Secretary Finance Mohammad YounisDagha had to face harsh questions in the meeting of Asia Pacific Group (APG), an affiliate regional body of FATF, in Guangzhou, China over insufficient legal and administrative measures for curbing the twin menace of money laundering terror financing. The Indian representative on the APG Board raised the issue of lack of seriousness on the part of Pakistan to effectively act against the proscribed organisations. At that time the foreign Office had expressed anguish and indignation over India’s propaganda tactics to achieve its political objective to eventually push its western neighbour from the grey list to the black list. The APG in its report which was submitted to FATF on implementation of 27 points action plan for making the anti-money laundering and counterterrorism financing regimes strong may have given weight to India’s point of view. That is why the US has made a demand of “Do more” against the banned outfits. In the aftermath of escalating tension between India and Pakistan over the division of Kashmir and abrogation of its special constitutional status there is likelihood of increased pressure from world powers at the behest of India for curbing the scourge of money laundering and terror financing and strengthening the legal and institutional frame work, ensuring compliance of the sanctions envisaged in the United Nations Security Council Resolutions numbering 1267 and 1373.
It is pertinent to mention that in the past the track record of the United States in terror financing is not clean. It provided funds and weapons to the right wing Contra Rebels from 1979 to 1990 to topple the national reconstruction government of Sandinista Junta in Nicaragua. Likewise, the UK is providing safe heaven to the money launders and is not inclined to extradite them to the countries of their origin despite the fact that Financial Crimes Act has been enforced there in September, 2017. Pakistan has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with UK and extradition treaty shall be agreed and signed in due course of time. But when foreign minister Shah MehmoodQuereshi met his British counterpart former foreign secretary Jermy Hunt, he was told that politically motivated request for extradition of the fugitives involved in the financial crime of money laundering not shall be entertained. In other words if Pakistan make formal request for the extradition of former finance Minister Ishaq Dar and sons of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, it will not be worth consideration despite the warrants issued against them by the courts in Pakistan. The US, UK and other world powers are applying double standards against Pakistan as yardstick of might is right.