The upcoming Financial Action Task Force meetings hold high stakes for Pakistan. The three-day virtual meetings, to be held from February 22 to 25 from Paris, will have on the agenda to discuss and decide whether or not to keep Pakistan on the grey list.
Pakistan has come a long way since it was placed on the grey list in June 2018. The placing on the grey list came as a bit of a wakeup call to politicians, who then put a lot of effort over the next three years in undertaking unprecedented measures to get our name removed from the list.
Those have included passing game-changing new laws, including the Anti-Money Laundering (second amendment) Bill 2020, Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) (third amendment) Bill 2020 and Islamabad Capital Territory Waqf Properties Bill 2020. These laws have caused some backlash, particularly amongst Madrassahs and conservative right-wing factions but the government has stood strong against the protests, realising the urgency of these reforms.
It thus came as a blow when Pakistan was not approved for being removed from the grey list in October 2020, when it submitted the report showing that it was complying with FATF requirements, including 21 of the 27 remaining recommendations provided by FATF. Now, in February 2021, officials report that Pakistan had already complied with the six recommendations, and has worked on the implementation of the FATF-related legislation it has passed as well.
Considering Pakistan’s commitment and compliance with FATF’s requirements, it is now time that Pakistan should be removed from the grey list. It is clear as day that Pakistan wants to comply and is doing so as a responsible country.
Considering FATF’s increasing demands from Pakistan, which appear to be influenced by other countries’ lobbying, there is a risk that it is not Pakistan’s credentials that are preventing it from being removed but world politics, where countries can leverage the FATF grey and blacklist for their own diplomatic benefits. We can only hope that the upcoming review proves that Pakistan has done more than enough to be taken off the grey list.