• Wednesday, May 29, 2024

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No action against Masood Azhar, Hafiz Saeed; Pakistan likely to remain in the ‘grey list’ of FATF

FILE PHOTO: Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan (Photo: AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images).

By: Pramod Thomas

PAKISTAN is likely to remain in the ‘grey list’ of the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog as it failed to fulfil six key obligations provided by the organisation.

The virtual plenary of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)from October 21-23 will take the final call on Pakistan’s fate after a thorough review of Islamabad’s performance in fulfilling the global commitments.

The major obligations including action against two of India’s most wanted terrorists Maulana Masood Azhar and Hafiz Saeed, its  operational commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, and the sudden disappearance of more than 4,000 terrorists from its official list.

Pakistan was placed on the grey list by the FATF in June 2018 and was given a plan of action to be completed by October 2019. The country needed 12 votes out of 39 to exit the grey list and move to the white list.

To avoid the blacklist, it needs the support of three countries. China, Turkey and Malaysia are its consistent supporters.

Currently, North Korea and Iran are on the FATF blacklist.

The global body had given Pakistan a total of 27 action plan obligations for completely checking terror financing of which so far it has cleared 21 but has failed in some of the key tasks, an official privy to the developments said.

The four nominating countries — the US, Britain, France and Germany — are also not satisfied with Islamabad’s commitment to taking strong action against the terror groups operating from its soil.

Azhar, Saeed and Lakhvi are most wanted terrorists in India for their involvement in numerous terrorist acts, including the 26/11 Mumbai terror strikes and the bombing of a CRPF bus at Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir in 2019.

With Pakistan’s continuation in the grey list, it is increasingly becoming difficult for Islamabad to get financial aid from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the European Union.

The FATF will also judge if competent authorities in Pakistan were cooperating and taking action to identify and taking enforcement action against illegal money or value transfer services.

The FATF plenary was earlier scheduled in June, but Pakistan got an unexpected breather after the global watchdog against financial crimes temporarily postponed all mutual evaluations and follow-up deadlines in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The watchdog also put a general pause in the review process, thus giving additional four months to Pakistan to meet the requirements.

Established in 1989, the FATF has 39 members, including two regional organisations — the EU and the GCC. India is a member of the FATF consultations and its Asia Pacific group.

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