Short of celebrations, govt praises army, PTI for progress

Shehbaz appreciates military’s core cell for efforts in completion of anti-money laundering watchdog’s item list 8Hina says development will restore confidence in Pakistan’s economy, give it a much-needed boost, improve investment climate

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday congratulated Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari after Pakistan completed the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) action plans, while State Minister for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar didn’t hesitate to share credit with the previous government for the development.

The anti-money laundering watchdog announced Friday that Pakistan has “substantially completed its two action plans” – of the total 34 items on the list – and would be removed from the grey list after it passes the on-site visit.

During a telephonic conversation with the COAS, the prime minister appreciated the “core cell” established at the General Headquarters (GHQ) for its efforts in the completion of the anti-money laundering watchdog’s item list. “I applaud the civil and military leadership that worked with the core cell,” the premier said.

In its statement released after the four-day plenary in Berlin, the watchdog acknowledged that the necessary political commitment remains in place to sustain implementation and improvement in the future. The army chief, a day earlier, had termed the FATF’s announcement a “great achievement” for Pakistan. In separate telephonic conversations, the prime minister appreciated Bilawal and Finance Minister Miftah Ismail for their efforts in this regard. Bilawal pledged he would continue making all-out efforts to steer the country out of all challenges, according to a statement.

Meanwhile, addressing a press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), Hina Rabbani Khar said that all political parties, the present and the previous governments deserved credit for making progress over the objective as it was a national cause and “a win-win situation for Pakistan”. The minister said that taking all drastic measures with national consensus was in Pakistan’s interests to show to the world that it was a responsible country.

She reiterated that Pakistan’s cooperation with the FATF and the international community was grounded in its strategic objective of strengthening its economy and further integration with the global financial system.  She said the “good news from FATF will restore confidence in our economy, will give it a much-needed boost and would improve the investment climate”.

She said Pakistan’s positive and speedy progress that paved the way for its exit from the grey list was greatly appreciated and welcomed by the FATF members. Sharing details of the FATF plenary session in Berlin, Germany, she said the body had acknowledged by consensus that all action items had been largely addressed by Pakistan and the action plan was closed with no pendency on part of Pakistan. She said on 2021 Action Plan related to money laundering issues, Pakistan had completed the entire seven-point action plan a year ahead of the prescribed timelines. “This swift pace and progress is indicative of the comprehensive reforms and action that have been carried out by Pakistan in the AML/CFT domain and sustained momentum of our efforts,” she maintained.

Hina Khar further said that FATF had now formally acknowledged the completion of both actions plans by Pakistan containing 34 points and duly recognised the tremendous progress and commitment to improve its systems.

She explained that the on-site visit by the FATF was a technical requirement for those countries that were removed from the grey list. It would evaluate the arrangements, legislation, coordination among different bodies and their offices, etc, she added.

“It marks the beginning of the end-process that will eventually culminate in the exit of Pakistan from FATF’s grey list,” she said, elaborating that they were working closely with the FATF to arrange the on-site visit, with a view to conclude the entire process at the earliest and before the next FATF plenary in October this year.

Hina Khar said that they had been highlighting the complete national consensus in Pakistan on the issue, which was supported by institutional harmony and synergy.

The minister, while appreciating the tireless efforts of all the teams to achieve the objective, said that it was indeed ‘a whole-of-country response’. “It also demonstrates that when we work together with a sense of purpose, we can achieve remarkable things,” she added. She also expressed gratitude to the friendly countries and international partners for their understanding, support and cooperation.