APG report dashes Islamabad’s hopes of exiting grey list
APG, a regional affiliate of the FATF, has said that Pakistan has not complied with laid down standards on combating financial terrorism
As Pakistan hires a Texas-based lobbying firm for influencing the US leaders and policymakers and wishing they would bail it out from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) grey list, a peer review by the Asia Pacific Group (APG) has placed it in the enhanced expedited follow-up list.
The enhanced expedited follow-up status is the last and the most rigorous category of follow-ups – starting with regular and enhanced - for a country that has not been compliant to FATF recommendations on bringing its system at par with international standards so that criminals and terrorists are not able to use it for resources and funding their activities.
The mutual review report by APG – a regional affiliate of the FATF comprising 41 countries - on Pakistan’s compliance with 40 recommendations has concluded that the country has complied with one, largely complied with 9, partially complied with 26 and not at all complied with on four counts.
It’s mandatory for the APG member countries to subject themselves to mutual evaluation on compliance of their systems to the FATF-laid down standards against anti-money laundering and combating of financial terrorism.
The FATF will meet for its three-day plenary on October 21 at Paris where Pakistan’s case will be taken up. The APG report will be the reference point while hearing Pakistan’s plea for giving it an exit from the inglorious list. Pakistan’s plea to APG to rework its status in view of the progress the country has made in some areas has been rejected.
The country has missed 14 deadlines and extra four months due to Corona lockdown to make changes in its system and yet the APG has found not having done enough to merit re-listing. Pakistan was included in the grey list of FATF in June 2018 and it has adversely impacted its already floundering economy.
The country therefore is unlikely to be taken off the grey list at the Paris meet though foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has been announcing that the US will bail it out of Paris and it would be soon placed in the white list.
After the APG report the beleaguered Prime Minister Imran Khan has called a meeting of all the opposition parties to garner support for passage of some bills in the Parliament to show compliance with FATF demands. The opposition has opposed the bills that seek to confer huge powers on law enforcing agencies to round up suspects of economic offences and terrorism citing it as a violation of the fundamental freedoms.
Also, the mere enactment of the law does not satisfy the FATF criterion; the compliance and capacity of the system to enforce the law is also assessed for rating a country. Under the enhanced expedited follow-up regime, Pakistan has to send at least four reports to the APG about the progress on compliance of FATF recommendations each year.
Pakistan’s media has been crying foul over the greylisting of the country by the FATF “under the growing influence of India.”
Although it’s not the first time for Pakistan to be included in the grey list of FATF, this time, it’s pinching its economy hard. Voices of concern are rising from within the country that unless the government acts against terrorists, it may get into the black list.
Ayesha Siddiqa, Pakistan-born writer and academician living in the UK, has been asking the government to cut off its relations with terrorists like Azhar Masood and Hafiz Saeed and take decisive actions against them to convince the world of its intentions for getting out of the FATF grey list.