ISLAMABAD: As reports surface that Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global money-laundering watchdog, has placed Pakistan back on its terrorist financing watchlist, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal cautioned against speculations on the matter.
“No official intimation of #FATF decision yet. We should not speculate till official statement is released,” Iqbal said on Twitter.
No official intimation of #FATF decision yet. We should not speculate till official statement is released.
— Ahsan Iqbal (@betterpakistan) February 23, 2018
FATF is going to announce its decisions — including on the motion to place Pakistan on the terror-financing watch list — after a week-long session concludes today.
Reports say US and UK have put forward a motion to place Pakistan on the FATF terrorist-financing watch list.
If adopted, the resolution would place Pakistan on the FATF grey-list of “jurisdictions with deficient anti-money laundering regimes”, in a likely blow to both Pakistan’s economy and its strained relations with US.
Pakistan was previously on the FATF watchlist from 2012 to 2015.
The move is part of a broader U.S. strategy to pressure Pakistan to cut alleged links to Islamist militants waging chaos in neighboring Afghanistan.
It comes days after reports that Pakistan had been given a three-month reprieve before being placed on the list, which could hamper banking and hurt foreign investment.
Washington has spent the past week lobbying member countries of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to place Pakistan on the so-called “grey list” of nations that are not doing enough to combat terrorism financing.
Pakistan’s last-minute efforts to avoid being placed on the list, which included taking over bodies linked to a powerful militant figure, proved insufficient, India’s Republic news service and Times Now television channel said.
A non-Indian diplomatic source from one of the FATF countries confirmed that the group had decided Pakistan would be put back on the watchlist.
Earlier in the week China, Turkey, and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) were opposing the U.S.-led move against Pakistan but by Thursday night both China and the GCC dropped their opposition, the diplomatic source said.
“The decision was taken yesterday,” the diplomat said.
He added that the financial consequences would not kick in until June, which, in theory, could allow Pakistan the wriggle room to fix the terrorist financing issues. “But the odds of that, particularly in an election year, seem slim,” he added.
Pakistani officials and analysts fear being on the FATF watchlist could endanger its handful of remaining banking links to the outside world, causing real financial pain to the economy just as a general election looms in the summer.
Under FATF rules one country’s opposition is not enough to prevent a motion from being successful. Britain, France and Germany backed the U.S. move.
Islamabad has sought to head off the move by amending its anti-terrorism laws and by taking over organizations controlled by Hafiz Saeed, whom Washington blames for the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people.
On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif tweeted that Pakistan had received a 3-month reprieve, adding that it was “grateful to friends who helped”. –Samaa/Agencies
Story first published: 23rd February 2018