Curb terror funding by October, or else...: Global watchdog FATF warns Pakistan

New Delhi, News Nation Bureau | Updated : 22 June 2019, 12:27 AM
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan

Pakistan has been given October deadline to improve its counter-terror financing operations in line with an internationally agreed action plan or face actions against it, a global watchdog told news agency Reuters on Friday. The Financial Action Task Force said it was concerned that Pakistan had failed to complete the action plan first by a January deadline and then again by a May deadline.

"The FATF strongly urges Pakistan to swiftly complete its action plan by October 2019 when the last set of action plan items are set to expire," the FATF said in a statement.

"Otherwise, the FATF will decide the next step at that time for insufficient progress," it said after a meeting in Orlando, Florida.

Pakistan, however, has managed to garner the support of Turkey, China and Malaysia to avoid being placed on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) blacklist, according to media reports on Friday.

The FATF will formally announce the decision of not blacklisting Islamabad in its Plenary scheduled in Paris on October 13-18, the reports said.

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mohammad Faisal, has however, refused to comment on the development.

In June 2018, Pakistan was placed in the 'Gray' list and given a 27-point action plan by the Paris-based FATF.

This plan was reviewed at the last plenary in October 2018 and for the second time in February this year, when the country was again put into the 'Gray' list after India submitted new information about Pakistan-based terrorist groups.

Turkey was the only country that had opposed the move backed by the US, the UK and India.

However, Pakistan's all-weather ally Beijing abstained.

The FATF continuing Pakistan in the 'Gray' list means its downgrading by the IMF, the World Bank, the ADB, the EU and also a reduction in risk rating by the Moody's, the S&P and the Fitch.

This will add to the financial problems of Pakistan, which is seeking aid from all possible international avenues.

Islamabad managed to avoid being placed on the FATF blacklist with the help of Turkey, China and Malaysia -- the three member states of the FATF, the Dawn reported.

As per the 36-nation FATF charter, the support of at least three member states is essential to avoid the blacklisting.

The development took place at the five-day meeting of FATF's Plenary and Working Group meeting in Orlando, Florida last week, according to Geo News.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's foreign ministry sources said: "the danger is still not over".

"This is certainly a positive development that there is no imminent threat of blacklisting (by the FATF) due to crucial support from Turkey, China and Malaysia," a Pakistan Foreign Ministry official was quoted as saying by Turkey's Anadolu Agency.

However, he said, Pakistan had to meet the FATF deadline of January 2019 to complete its action plan aimed at fully blocking the money laundering and other financial loopholes.

In a statement in February, the financial watchdog though agreed that Islamabad had made progress towards implementation of the action plan -- negotiated between Pakistan and the FATF members -- in June 2018, it sought "dissuasive sanctions" and "effective prosecution" in this connection.

At a meeting in the Chinese city of Guangzhou last month, Pakistan was reportedly asked to "do more" as its compliance on 18 of the 27 indicators -- pointed out in the action plan -- was unsatisfactory, the Dawn reported.

Pakistan requires at least 15 out of 36 votes to move out of the FATF 'gray' list, which is causing an estimated loss of USD 10 billion per year to the country, the report said.

(With PTI inputs)

First Published: Saturday, June 22, 2019 12:27 AM
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