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Sunday 5 April 2020

Pakistan may remain in FATF grey list for years together

Due to the unsatisfactory progress Pakistan made in its actions against terrorists, FATF will continue to debar it from getting loans the Imran Khan government badly needs to revive the country's economy

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All the manoeuvres of Pakistan to wash off the tag of a sponsor of terrorism have failed. Pakistan’s expectations from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) are dim. India’s western neighbour will remain in the grey list, say sources.

Pakistan fails to impress with Saeed’s sentence

The FATF doubts how sincerely Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has tried to make his country stop funding terrorism. Pakistan’s only hope arises from the five-and-a-half-years sentence given to Hafiz Mohammad Sayeed, the mastermind of the Mumbai attacks.

Pakistan’s anti-terrorism court sentenced Hafiz Sayeed to five years on 13 February. The Khan government is linking this with Pakistan’s action against terrorism.

American think-tank and south Asian affairs’ ‘expert’ Michael Kugelman has said that Pakistan cannot get out of the grey list while it may not be blacklisted. The FATF meeting began on Monday in Paris, the French capital.

Madiha Afzal of Brookings Institute tweeted that action on Saeed was important but it remains to be seen what action the Pakistani government takes on the appeal against the sentence.

Poor record of the Islamic country

Pakistan may remain in the grey list for a long time to come. This is a big setback for Pakistan because if the FATF is not satisfied with the Pakistani evidence, it can finally be blacklisted.

There is a plenary meeting from Wednesday, 19 February, which will look into Pakistan’s reply. Kugelman says it is difficult for Pakistan to get out of the grey list so soon. This could probably happen in a meeting to be held later this year. However, for this, the Khan government will have to take concrete steps.

Earlier, FATF had given 19 points to Pakistan that had fulfilled only three of these conditions last time. After the punishment of Saeed, the US said that Pakistan still needed to do more to curb terrorism.

The FATF is an inter-governmental organisation based in Paris. Its job is to make rules to prevent illegal legislation. It was formed in 1989. When put in the grey list or blacklist of FATF, a country faces a lot of difficulty in getting loans from international institutions.

Pakistan was added to the grey list in 2018. Before that, between 2012 and 2015, Pakistan had been in this list of dubious states. In 2016, the Pakistan government enacted stringent laws against hawala and terrorism financing, after which it was dropped from the list. The last FATF meeting was held in October 2019.

Help from China, Turkey, Malaysia not enough

Recently, China, which has been Pakistan’s advocate, became the chairman of FATF. However, it has made action against the Islamic State, Al Qaidah and other terrorist organizations associated with them an important standard.

Turkey and Malaysia left no stone unturned in taking Pakistan out of the grey list but failed.

In the last meeting, China openly supported Pakistan. This time Turkey is also with Pakistan. However, the rest of the western countries including the US are not happy with the Khan government’s action against terrorism.

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