The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) front has become a real battleground for our monetary and policy-making wizards who have failed to get positive news from the forum despite their efforts to meet the terms set by the watchdog body.
In yet another announcement made on Thursday after the meeting of FATF’s regional partner, the Asia Pacific Group, Pakistan will be kept on the group’s enhanced monitoring list – another name for the infamous grey list. Since June 2018, Pakistan has been on the group’s grey list for its weaker laws on counter-terror financing and anti-money laundering. And since then, Pakistan has come up with a sea of improved laws and ensuing actions but the grey list has not let the country off the hook for one reason or another, which are mostly political as well. This time, the announcement carried a little bit of recognition for Pakistan’s great efforts to meet 30, out of 34, terms, and that Pakistan had to complete two concurrent action plans by the time of the next meeting. “Overall, Pakistan is making good progress on this new action plan. Four out of the seven items are now addressed or largely addressed,” reads the announcement, read out by a FATF official in a virtual address. Similarly, on terror financing, the FATF sees the compliance of 26, out of 27, terms by Pakistan. The only areas which are far from satisfaction are investigations and prosecutions against the senior leadership of UN-designated terror groups.
Since the launch of the FATF action, Pakistan has overseen its laws and actions through legislation and aggressive actions to stem monetary transactions to banned groups, a step which has broken the bone of terrorism. Moreover, these laws will go a long way in country’s fight against corruption, terrorism and organized criminals.
The government sees the verdict as good news, even though the country is still on the watchdog’s list. Energy Minister Hammad Azhar, citing Pakistan’s progress on the money laundering action plan, said four out of seven items were addressed, and on the terror financing action plan, 26 terms had been completed. He says Pakistan is almost done with the action plan. In terms of numbers, Pakistan seems to be in a comfortable position, but the question remains why the FATF forum is not fully convinced. Perhaps, the government needs to launch a lobby group in the group.