Islamabad (February 27, 2018): Advisor to the Prime Minister on Finance Miftah Ismail has brushed off concerns that economic growth will suffer because of the country’s re-inclusion on a terrorist financing watch list, and lashed out against the United States for seeking to “embarrass” the nation.
Washington last week persuaded member states of the Financial Action Task Force (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, until 2015.The diplomatic setback has sparked anger in Islamabad against United States, which championed the motion against Pakistan at the FATF meeting in Paris. It represented another blow to the worsening relationship between the uneasy allies.
Ismail, who led Pakistan’s negotiations in Paris, said that Washington did not seem genuinely eager to see Pakistan boost its terrorist financing regulations and was instead bent on humiliating the country.
“If the Americans were interested in working with us and improving our CTF (counter-terrorist financing) regulations, they would have taken the offer I was making them,” Ismail said. “But their idea was just to embarrass Pakistan.”Ismail said that he urged the United States to allow Pakistan until June to fix any outstanding CTF issues and ceded ground in negotiations to strike a deal, but that the US was determined to see Pakistan suffer.
He said Pakistan’s law-enforcement shortcomings are often confused for lack of desire, especially at provincial level, where police officers are poorly trained when it comes to terrorist financing legislation. “The will is there,” he added.The advisor to PM ruled out Pakistan’s retaliating against Washington over the FATF listing. He said the country would keep working to improve its CTF capabilities and win the confidence of Britain, Germany and France, who co-sponsored the US motion in Paris.
Pakistan hopes to be removed from the grey list in six to 12 months from June, when it will be officially placed on the watch list, Ismail added.The PM’s aide said he did not foresee the FATF decision acting as a brake on Pakistan’s economy, which, with growth above 5 percent, is expanding at its fastest pace in a decade.
“I would rather not be in the list, but I don’t think it will hurt” economic growth, Ismail said, adding that ordinary Pakistanis would not see any impact from the FATF move.
He pointed out that Pakistan’s economic growth accelerated even during the period the country was last on the watch list. From 2012-2015, exports and foreign currency reserves expanded, while its stock market shot up by more than 200 percent, he said.
“We are focused on improving our economy and overcoming this little hiccup,” Ismail said. “We will continue on our path forward.”