With China, Turkey, Malaysia backing, Pakistan likely to escape FATF Blacklist

On Friday the international body is set to announce whether Pakistan has done enough to avoid the FATF “blacklist,” which includes Iran and North Korea

New Delhi: The Financial Action task Force will review Pakistan’s performance on curbing the terrorism today. Earlier, the international organization that keeps a check on money laundering to terrorist organization had indicated that it may put the neighbouring country in the “Dark Grey” list. This means it will only get one chance to implement the measures to end terrorism support. However, the country may escape the “blacklisting” which India is pushing for as China-now at the helm of FATF, Turkey and Malaysia saving the day.

The Paris based FATF put Pakistan on its “gray list” in June 2018, and gave Islamabad an October 2019 deadline to take action against home-grown militant Islamist groups and cut off their funding.

On Friday the international body is set to announce whether Pakistan has done enough to avoid the FATF “blacklist,” which includes Iran and North Korea.

According to the sources blocking a blacklisting both requires the support of only three countries and they believe that with China, which at the helm of the FATF for now, and Turkey and Malaysia as members of Financial Action Task Force, Pakistan has just enough support to come out of the threat.

India is making an effort to push for the blacklisting, pointing out the poor track record of Pakistan. The government has cited the report by the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering, one of the nine FATF-styled regional groups.

The APG had found Pakistan only partially compliant on 29 out of 40 counts, non-compliant on one count and fully compliant only on just one count.

In June last year Pakistan took some hurried steps ahead of the FATF plenary as it did. It arrested four Lashkar-e-Toiba/Jamaat-ud-Dawa terrorists identified as Professor Zafar Iqbal, Yahya Aziz, Muhammad Ashraf and Abdul Salam on charges of terror financing. LeT chief Hafiz Saeed is already under arrest on the same charges.

US state department’s Bureau for South and Central Asian Affairs had welcomed the news and asked Pakistan to arrest the individuals along with Hafiz Saeed. This gave an impression that US may go soft on Pakistan at FATF.

However, the sources say that the US was “very tough on Pakistan compliance with FATF and was pushing for blacklisting”. However, it was also pointed out that there was a realistic view that under Chinese presidency and “resistance from some members this may not be immediately attainable.”

So, this means Pakistan will continue to stay in the FATF grey list for now. But there will be more pressure on Pakistan to comply with agenda items agreed in June 2018 where it has been found lacking.
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