FATF decision on Pakistan ‘grey’ listing
It is touch and go, something too close for call. The three-month reprieve period by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in its February 2018 plenary moot to straighten things out on the country’s anti-money laundering and terror-financing front has ended, with the ‘listing’ matter to be decided during the ongoing FATP meeting in Paris from June24-29. Sponsored by the US, later seconded by the UK, Germany and France, the matter hinged around Pakistan’s alleged non-compliance, a deadly sin, with aspects of UNSC Resolution 1267 regarding entities and individuals designated as terrorists. Alarmingly, in February, Turkey alone stood by Pakistan, and reportedly even China and Saudi Arabia remained silent in the second vote. If Pakistan is chastened for not doing enough, it would be its second sailing in the ‘grey’ boat after 2012-15.
But Pakistan will put up a stout and spirited defense under the leadership of caretaker finance minister, the formidable Dr Shamshad Akhtar, former State Bank governor, with vast working experience in UN, World Bank and Asian Development Bank. Pakistan has also taken decisive steps to allay the FATF member’s worries regarding its earlier ‘strategic deficiencies’ in tackling money laundering and terror financing, including anti-terror legislation and Presidential Ordinances to clamp down on UN designated proscribed outfits and individuals, the June 20 Anti-Money-Laundering and Countering Financing of Terror Regulation 2018 issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan in accordance with FATF recommendations, and the clear declaration by the National Security Committee meeting on June 8, for working with FATF to achieve common goals and shared objectives.
Political agendas and geopolitical concerns must not affect FATF decisions in these crucial matters, such as the full page advertisement in Monday’s edition of New York Times, urging FATF to blacklist Iran and its Central Bank governor for financing Hezbollah and fomenting violence in the Middle East, paid for by the so-called ‘United against Nuclear Iran’. China, the Saudis and especially the EU, the latter now keenly aware of the Trump presidency’s shortsightedness and excesses, should consider the favourable steps taken by Pakistan and avoid jolting Pakistan’s already shaky economy with a FATF ‘listing’ on the eve of national elections.