BREAKING: US bid to place Pakistan on FATF counter terrorism watchlist fails

BREAKING: US bid to place Pakistan on FATF counter terrorism watchlist fails

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan's diplomatic efforts have paid off and the bid to place Pakistan on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) counter Terrorism watch List by US has failed. Pakistan had been engaged in intensive diplomacy over the issue with not only the western countries but with China and Russia also. Signals from Moscow and Beijing were positive while western countries also lauded Pakistan's counter terrorism efforts and the steps taken in this regard.

Pakistan Foreign Minister has confirmed that the bid has been unsuccessful and there was no resolution against Pakistan. 

Pakistan has been lobbying against the US bid in the FATF. China and Russia supported Pakistan. Pakistan was in touch with the FATF Asia Pacific group and the steps taken in the counter terrorism financing were briefed in detail as per the UN requirements.

Pakistan apprised the world community about the steps taken in this regard. The recent steps taken by Pakistan are as per the United Nations guidelines. 

The United States (US) failed to find partners in its bid to put Pakistan on the global terror financing watch-list during an ongoing conference in Paris, Express Tribune has quoted.

The six-day conference of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) continues in the French capital. The meeting was due to vote on a US motion to put Pakistan on the global terror watch-list.

But, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said early on Wednesday that the US has failed in its bid against Pakistan.

In a tweet, Asif has said that Pakistan’s efforts have paid off, and the Paris conference has deferred voting for three months.

The recent visit of the Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa to the International Security Conference in the Munich, Germany is also considered very important in this regard. Pakistan Military Chief apprised the world community and especially the western allies that Pakistan has moved a long way against terrorism and any efforts in this regard would be counterproductive. Pakistan's Military diplomacy was active along with the foreign office officials in the world capitals.

This US move against Pakistan had become yet another thaw in the Pakistan and United States rocky relations in the Trump administration. 

Asif also says that the Financial Action Task Force has asked Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering to submit another report in June 2018.

Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance Dr Miftah Ismail has been in Paris to plead Pakistan’s case at the ongoing session.

Ismail left for Paris at the weekend to attend the FATF meetings, said officials of the Finance Ministry. The decision to send the adviser was taken abruptly.

Besides the western countries Pakistan had lobbied with China and Russia and the signal received from Beijing and Moscow were positive and Pakistan's efforts in the counter terrorism field were lauded and appreciated.

According to the original plan, the Director General Financial Monitoring Unit, a joint secretary-level official of the Ministry of Finance and representatives from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) were to represent the country.

Just a day before his departure for France, the adviser had returned from a week-long visit of Europe, where he had gone to convince the FATF member countries about the actions that Islamabad has taken to remain compliant with global anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing regime.

The FATF is holding six-day-long meetings to discuss issues ‘to protect the integrity of the global financial system and contribute to safety and security’. The meetings involve more than 700 delegates from the 203 jurisdictions of the FATF Global Network, as well as the UN, IMF, World Bank and other partners.

The plenary meetings will take place from February 21 to 23 and will focus on counter-terrorism financing and proliferation financing. The US and the UK had moved the motion to place Pakistan on the FATF terrorist-financing watchlist. France and Germany were co-sponsoring the move.

If the FATF adopts the resolution, the country can again be placed on the grey list of jurisdictions with deficient anti-money laundering regimes after a gap of three years. Pakistan suspects Indian role behind the US-sponsored resolution as Ismail recently lamented that the FATA was used for political purposes.

According to the financial sector experts, any move to place Pakistan on the watchlist would enhance scrutiny level of the financial transactions that the country’s banking sector would undertake with the rest of the world.

This will increase the cost of opening letter of credits (LC) for trade purposes. The negative decision by FATF will have the force to affect the international credit ratings, which will in turn increase cost of borrowings for the government.

At present, the 11 jurisdictions are on the high risk and monitoring list of the FATF, which include North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Ethiopia and Sri Lanka, etc. Pakistan has remained on the FATF grey list from 2009 to 2015.

While delisting the country in February 2015, the FATF had noted that Pakistan made significant progress in improving its anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing regime and also established the legal and regulatory framework to meet its commitments in its action plan regarding the strategic deficiencies that the FATF had identified in June 2010.

However, Pakistan kept working with the Asia Pacific Group to address the full range of issues identified in its mutual evaluation report, in particular, fully implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1267.

But activities of Hafiz Saeed’s Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and the Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF) have created problems for the government, according to Finance Ministry officials.

This month, Pakistan also promulgated a Presidential Ordinance to ensure full compliance with the FATF requirements. Now the UN-proscribed organisations and individuals will be automatically proscribed in Pakistan.