FATF’s hanging sword

The Asia Pacific Group (APG) in its recent meeting at Guangzhou, China expressed dissatisfaction over the effectiveness of Pakistan’s efforts against money laundering and terror financing. APG is an affiliate regional body of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) which is an international watchdog that monitors the role of UN member countries in matters relating to ant-money laundering and counter terrorism financing. It had formally put Pakistan on the greylist in its meeting held in Paris in June last year due to strategic deficiencies in its anti-money laundering and terrorism financing regime. Former caretaker Finance Minster Dr. Shamshad Akhtar had done a lot of firefighting by apprising the participants of the meeting about the progress in two out of three areas of FATF but even then Pakistan was greylisted.
It is pertinent to mention that in the past it were the world powers like the United States (US) and the United Kingdom (UK) which encouraged the transfer of financial resources from developing countries through money laundering which was done by the ruling political and business elite and top bureaucrats. In the UK Financial Crimes Act was enforced in September 2017. However, a fugitive Pakistani politician Altaf Hussain was given clean chit in case of money transfer from Pakistan through money through money laundering. Likewise, the extradition request of the present government against the absconding former Finance Minister Ishaq Dsar and sons of convicted and disqualified former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Hassan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz may not be entertained. Might is right because in the prevailing World Order it the US pressure that is used to malign and victimize the developing countries , install and defend the corrupt elected and unelected governments there so long as they are like assets for this super power. Pakistan is no exception in this regard.
A Pakistani delegation led by the Federal Finance Secretary Mohammad Younis Dagha attended the APG meeting which faced harsh questions over the administrative and legal measures so far taken to curb the twin menace of money laundering and terror financing. Some participants of the meeting, particularly the ones representing India raised tough questions about Pakistan’s seriousness to act against proscribed organisations and effectiveness of internal control. The Foreign Office has already expressed anguish and indignation over India’s propaganda tactics to manipulate the APG platform against Pakistan to realise the political objective of eventually putting its western neighbour country on the blacklist.
The APG has been tasked to submit its report on Pakistan’s compliance of 27 points FATF action plan on anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing. The analytical report of this affiliate body would be deliberated by the FATF in its meeting in September to decide whether to exclude Pakistan from the greylist or not. In October last year its delegation paid 10 day visit of Pakistan and held meetings with the high officials of Financial Management Unit of the Central Bank, the Federal Investigation agency, Anti Narcotics Force and Security Exchange Commission of Pakistan. The APG delegation had pointed out certain weakness in the institutional and legal frameworks and emphasised to plug them.
Since then the PTI government has taken robust measures to streamline the institutional framework with administrative actions like crackdown on proscribed organisations and seizures of their financial and immovable assets. Likewise, measures against money laundering and currency smuggling are being taken. But for making the legal frame work effective against money laundering and terrorism financing legislation is required on which the government showed reluctance due hostile attitude of PPP, PML-N and other opposition parties in the parliament as the PTI led coalition is short of numbers because of razor thin majority in the National Assembly and a minority party in the Senate. Now the leaderships of PPP and PML-N, whose image is tainted with financial corruption and money laundering scandals, have decided to launch protest and agitation outside parliament. JUI (F) Central Amir Maulana Fazlu Rehman has met former President Asif Zardari and PML-N top leaders will meet Bilawal Bhutto Zardari at Aftar dinner to work out strategy for agitation against the government after Eid. This sort of attitude shows nothing but giving preference to self interest over the national interest in the prevailing fluid regional situation and hanging sword of FATF over Pakistan.