- FO spokesman says ‘there is currently no chance of Pakistan’s placement on FATF terror financing blacklist’
- Says Pakistan and US to find common ground for continued cooperation
ISLAMABAD: After a week of perpetual uncertainty regarding Pakistan’s placement on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) list pertaining to terror financing and money laundering, Foreign Office Spokesperson Muhammad Faisal on Wednesday confirmed that the country will be added to the watchlist in June.
Speaking at a weekly news briefing, Dr Faisal revealed that a decision to place Pakistan on the watchlist was taken at the FATF plenary session held in Paris last week.
After tensions between Pakistan and the US escalated over former’s inaction against terror networks, Washington persuaded member states of the FATF to place Pakistan back on the “grey list” of nations with inadequate terrorist financing or money laundering controls. Pakistan was on the list for three years from 2012.
The meeting of the FATF that convened on Feb 23 gave rise to confusion regarding Pakistan’s status after several foreign reported that Pakistan is being placed on the list, prior to the meeting’s conclusion; however, the FATF spokesperson denied these reports.
Moreover, Pakistan was absent from the statements issued in the aftermath of the meeting, as a result, several heaved a sigh of relief. However, the second vote called by the US dashed these hopes as the meeting agreed to place Pakistan on the list with the allies, China and Saudi Arabia, supporting the motion–backtracking from their earlier stance.
However, one of the reasons behind Pakistan not being on the current list could be that “it has not yet worked out the proposed plan with the FATF”, reported a local media outlet.
The list features nine countries Ethiopia, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago, Vanuatu and Tunisia, while Bosnia and Herzegovina have been moved to the white-list.
Despite several media reports on being placed on the list, the authorities kept mum, but they finally admitted when the FO spokesperson said that the country will be on the list from June while ruling out the possibility that Pakistan could even be placed on the international watchdog’s blacklist over a lack of compliance.
“Pakistan will be placed on the [FATF] ‘grey list’ in June, but there is currently no chance of [its] placement on the blacklist,” the spokesman said, adding that Pakistan will cooperate with FATF in every possible way.
Earlier, a local media outlet reported that Pakistan may find itself on the blacklist of a global financial watchdog if it does not prepare a comprehensive action plan to eradicate terrorist financing by June.
However, rejecting such reports, the FO assured that the country will prepare an action to eradicate terror financing and will accordingly share with the international body. According to the spokesperson, the FATF has asked Pakistan to take additional steps to curb money laundering and terror financing.
He said Pakistan has already taken steps to remove the deficiencies in these areas and cited the presidential ordinance that was quietly passed days before the FATF plenary to amend the anti-terror legislation in order to include all UN-listed individuals and groups in the national listings of proscribed outfits and persons.
All matters related to the FATF will be dealt with by the finance ministry, the FO spokesman said, adding that all matters relating to the terror financing issue except for press releases are of a “sensitive nature”.
Just a day after the meeting, Finance Adviser Miftah Ismael hinted at the authenticity of media reports, when he told a private media outlet that “Pakistan is being made a ‘target of politics’ at the FATF meeting.
Ismail had said that Pakistan was made a “target of politics” despite the country’s tangible efforts to crack down on money laundering and terror financing. “What do [they] want? They just want to humiliate Pakistan. Pakistan is not a big money launderer,” he said.
“If they were bothered about terror financing, they would work with us, they would see how much we have done and [what more] we will do till June,” the adviser continued.
Earlier, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif had said that Pakistan had been given a three-month reprieve before being placed on the list, which could hamper banking and hurt foreign investment.
Asif had tweeted that Pakistan’s “efforts have paid (off)” during a Tuesday meeting on the US-led motion, suggesting there was “no consensus for nominating Pakistan”.
He had also suggested the meeting proposed a “three months pause” and asked for the Asia Pacific Group, which is part of FATF, to consider “another report in June”.
“Grateful to friends who helped,” Asif had added alluding to China, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
On the same day as Asif’s tweet, The Wall Street Journal had named China, Turkey and Saudi Arabia as the ‘friends’ who had come forward to rescue Pakistan, saying that the three countries had blocked the US’s motion to put Pakistan on the list.
Following the remarks of the FM, the US State Department had dismissed the claims made by Asif that it had granted the country a reprieve over a watch list vote, stating that it has yet to take a decision on the matter.
‘Pak, US to find common ground for continued cooperation’:
About Pak-US relations, Dr Faisal said Pakistan and the United States desire to move forward and find common ground for continued cooperation.
Responding to questions at the weekly news briefing, he said the latest visit of Senior Director at the US National Security Council Lisa Curtis was an indication of this desire.
He said during the visit, both sides expressed the desire to work together to pursue the common objective of stabilising Afghanistan.
He said Pakistan has always maintained that the only solution of Afghan conflict lies in the politically negotiated settlement, which is Afghan-led and Afghan-owned. He pointed out that military approach of seventeen years has failed to render desired results and increased miseries of Afghan civilians.
To a question about belligerent statements by the Indian army chief, the spokesman said these reflect the unfortunate jingoistic mindset in India. He said as a responsible member of the international community, Pakistan exercises restraint but our armed forces are fully capable of responding to any threat.
About the development of drone technology by India, he said its use should be consistent with the principles of UN Charter and international human rights law and established norms of a responsible state. He, however, said development of drone technology by India is worrying in the context of its expanding military capabilities in conventional and non-conventional domains.
The Foreign Office also deplored India over “pervading extremism and anti-Pakistan prejudice” in its country as the Indian Motion Pictures Producers’ Association (IMPPA) upheld its ban on Pakistani performing artistes being cast in the Indian media.
“Politicising religious and cultural activities is detrimental, most of all, to India itself,” the statement read.