Members of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) are slated to meet again this year in October in order to reflect upon the anti-money laundering and combating finance of terrorism (AML/CFT) efforts made by countries on the grey list.
Pakistan being the latest name on the list is also under immense pressure to fulfill the commitments made to FATF in June regarding the country’s strategic deficiencies in curbing terrorist funding.
The Asia Pacific Group (APG) visited Pakistan last month as a delegation of FATF to monitor the needed measures taken by the country and termed the efforts as unsatisfactory on the legal front.
As the concerned officials prepare to advocate for the country’s removal from the list once again, here are the 3 things Pakistan must do to get off the FATF grey list.
Why was Pakistan Placed on the Grey List?
Pakistan’s placement on the grey list by FATF came at the heels of the country’s failure to defend its anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing regime against the allegations of United States, India, France, Germany and others in February 2018.
Later that year, on producing insufficient evidence in the country’s support, Pakistan was officially placed on the G-list and a 10-point plan was agreed upon (including the squelching of internationally banned extremist outfits’ funds), the implementation of which is to decide the fate of the country’s inclusion in the dreaded list.
If Pakistan doesn’t live up to the international body’s standard till September next year, the threat of being placed on the black list along with Iran and North Korea looms over. In the meanwhile, APG, a group responsible to keep a track of the implementation of FATF commitments in the related region, will conduct several surveys and develop reports afterwards to update the task force.
Given such circumstances, if Pakistan is to rescue its already crippling economy from the financial repercussions that come with a grey list, the government has to take serious measures to undo the damage done by the corrupt system in the past. Here are few of the many things that Pakistan must do to ensure its removal from the grey list as soon as possible.
1. Uncompromising Enforcement of the Policies at Grass Root Level!
Following the mounting pressure, Pakistan banned the likes of Jamaatud Dawa and its affiliate, Falah-i-Insaniyat, seized their source of income and confiscated their assets.
However, some, if not all such banned outfits have been cited setting-up camps to collect charity, especially during Ramazan and Eid-ul-Azha. The irony is that these fund collection campaigns are often organized in the heart of metropolitan cities of Pakistan and that too in broad daylight.
In this situation it becomes difficult for Pakistan to convince FATF that it is taking substantial steps to cut-off financial aid of radical militant factions.
Consequently, Pakistan must ensure comprehensive and uncompromising enforcement of policies agreed with FATF, including, if necessary the arrest of those leading these factions and must not yield to right-wing pressure that usually comes with measures of the sorts.
2. Emergence of New Radical Groups!
Not directly related to AML/CFT regime but Pakistani government direly needs to stop groups like Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP) from gaining ground as they can grow on to be a bone of contention between Pakistan and FATF in the future.
Blocking key roads every few months, inciting violence through his fiery words and openly exploiting the sentiment of hate in his speeches, Khadim Rizvi and his affiliates have gained discernible influence in the short span of just one year.
Instead of reprimanding and sanctioning his activities, the state has instead mainstreamed TLP, brushing under the carpet the gruesome baggage of self-annihilating strategies that still haunt our nation.
The civil-military leadership of Pakistan, hence, needs to be far-sighted and nip the evil in the bud before it evolves into another Frankenstein’s monster at loose!
3. Pakistani Lobbyists have their Work Cut Out for them!
One of the many reasons why Pakistan couldn’t steer away from the glacier is the weak diplomatic efforts in thwarting the enlistment.
The “anti” campaign ran by the United States and India was so efficient that even Pakistan’s all-weather friend China and brother-in-arm Saudi Arabia backed out at the eleventh hour.
Under the new leadership, Pakistan should pursue diplomatic relations with other FATF members with a new and more coherent approach that breeds productive results and helps garner support in the form of votes in the next voting session.
What FATF Needs to Understand!
The APG that visited Pakistan last month urged for establishing terror-funding as an extraditable offense. While all the other demands by FATF are reasonable, this one seems quite unfair as any such move will likely result in an uproar even among the progressive circles of the country owing to the specter of Guantanamo Bay.
The horrors of Guantanamo Bay are reason enough for Pakistan to not make the offense extraditable and rather prosecute the culprits according to its own criminal justice system.
While the final decision lies with the government and those running it, one dearly wishes for Pakistan to come off these testing times soon and use this experience before picking a side in the future!