United States along with its ally Britain had co sponsored a move in The FATF to place Pakistan on The counter terrorism watch list in order to penalise Pakistan for non acceptance of US demands in war against terrorism.
The US State Department has dismissed the claims made by Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja 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.
The State Department said it expected a formal decision in the coming days.“We’re anticipating that the final decision would be made on Thursday of this week,” a spokesperson said.
Pakistan had reportedly gathered support of at least three members of the FATF , namely China Russia and Turkey for stopping the US bid against it.
According to a recent tweet by the foreign minister, Pakistan was granted a three-month reprieve by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) after a meeting in Paris failed to reach agreement on the matter.
“No consensus for nominating Pakistan,” Asif had tweeted, adding that the forum instead proposed a three-month pause along with the submission of a new report to the body.
“Grateful to friends who helped,” he added.
To stop a FATF bid at least support of 3 permanent members is required and Pakistan had claimed the support of at least three members.
FATF declined to comment, with a spokeswoman saying any formal decision would be made by Friday.
“The final decision on that was due later this week, so I don’t want to get ahead of what that final decision would be,” US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters. “I don’t have just independent confirmation that a decision was made early.”
She added: “A lot of countries have come together and they look at various nations who we believe and those other countries believe are not doing enough to crack down on terror financing, counterterrorism and the like.
“Pakistan is one of those countries that they’re taking a close look at, and they may be making – they’ll be making an announcement sometime soon.”
Meanwhile, *The Wall Street Journal* reported on Wednesday that Saudi Arabia has joined Turkey and China to block the US-led attempt this week to place Pakistan on the international terror-financing watch list.
Saudi Arabia’s move on behalf of Pakistan came just days after Islamabad said it would send more than 1,000 troops to the Gulf kingdom, which has expanded its military posture in the region since its 2015 intervention in Yemen’s civil war.
However, the officials said the US effort, which included pressure on the Saudis, raised the possibility of a fresh vote on action against Pakistan as soon as Thursday.
Saudi Arabia is a close US ally, with its crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, forming a personal bond with the family of President Donald Trump. It was Saudi Arabia’s surprise backing that secured the necessary opposing votes to block the US.
If US lobbying is successful and the task force does end up adding Pakistan to its list of countries deemed “high risk” for doing too little to curb terror financing, banks, other lenders and international companies seeking to do business with the South Asian country could rethink financial ties, putting a damper on its already struggling economy.
The US was supported in its effort to put Pakistan on the watch list by the UK, France, Germany and other countries. The proposal was initiated by a working group, which is responsible for making recommendations to the 35 member nations and two regional groups that make up the FATF plenary. The meeting continues through Friday.
Pakistan was supported by China and Turkey heading into the FATF working-group meeting earlier this week. Turkey and the US are allies as members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, though they are at odds with one another over actions in Syria.
Pakistan had lobbied FATF member countries to keep it off the watch list. It also took last-minute action against the militant group Jamaat-ud-Dawa, complying with 10-year-old United Nations sanctions against the group, which the international community holds responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attack that killed 166 people.
Earlier this month, the US tabled a motion to reintroduce Pakistan to the FATF watch-list. Pakistan had been on the FATF watchlist for years but was removed in 2015 following “significant progress” in meeting its demands.
FATF is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 to help combat money-laundering and financing for extremists. -