FATF meetings’ outcome shows Pak achievements on AML-CFT targets

LAHORE, Feb 27: The plenary discussions of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) sessions are reflective of a significant achievement made by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government, by improving compliance with the Task Force recommendations about effectiveness of combating financing terrorism and anti-money laundering (CFT-AML) systems.

Besides dwelling on financial and economic risks, the experts on war and economy admitted subsequently through their analyses that the relationship between monetary stability and peace was inevitable.

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Recently, the virtual FATF plenary meeting sessions were held in Paris from February 22 to 25 to consider cases of various countries currently placed on the grey list, making productive decisions at the conclusion of the meetings.

The FATF member-countries’ discussions were held to review the analytical report of the Task Force assessors on the basis of status of the compliance reports of various countries, including Pakistan. FATF President Dr. Marcus Pleyer announced the concluding note in a press briefing on February 24 on the outcomes of the FATF’s four-day virtual plenary meeting.

Pakistan is working towards its commitment in a transparent manner and at the highest level to overcome the issue of illicit financing, according to the watchdog’s recommendations, the FATF president noted.

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Regarding the assessment of the Pakistan efforts, an FATF website statement says that the country [Pakistan] should continue to work improving on implementing the three remaining items in its action plan to address the strategically important factors. The FATF further expressed its gratitude in its note about the significant progress made on the entire action plan.

President of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) Naser Hayat Maggo told APP that the FATF announcement was a welcoming sign for development of the country. He said the announcement regarding Pakistan’s action plan was commendable and it would help boost foreign investment in the country.

Pakistan made progress on all action plan items by addressing largely 24 of the 27 action items, and work on three action plan items would soon be accomplished, as the FATF urged Pakistan to swiftly complete full action plan before June 2021, he explained.

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Pakistan has successfully avoided blacklisting by the FATF and it would be trying its level best to come out of the grey list in upcoming June. It has made significant progress on the historically toughest action plan in very challenging times, amid COVID-19 pandemic, Federal Minister for Industries and Chairman FATF Coordination Committee Hammad Azhar said on February 26, while addressing a press conference.

The federal minister, who had led the Pakistani delegation at the FATF plenary, said that in 2018, when the action plan was given to Pakistan initially, the country’s priority and focus was on avoiding being blacklisted, which he said would have caused negative impact on the country’s economy.

Meanwhile, the federal minister, in his recent tweet, said that Pakistan had successfully completed almost 90 per cent work on its FATF action plan. The Task Force had also acknowledged the political commitment of the PTI government since 2018, which was a significant progress, added the minister.

The FATF member countries, during the discussions, noted that “Pakistan was subjected to perhaps the most difficult, challenging and comprehensive action plan ever given to any country,” the minister tweeted, adding that the country was also subjected to dual evaluation processes of the FATF, with differing timelines.

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Azhar, while commending the hard work, done by multiple government departments at federal and provincial levels, added that Pakistan largely remained committed to complying with both the evaluation processes.

Also, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said in a statement on February 26 that India badly failed in its nefarious designs to get Pakistan blacklisted by the FATF. He regretted that the Indian government was using the issue of FATF against Pakistan for political gains. He said Pakistan’s efforts were reflective of the fact that it was serious in taking action against terror-financing and money-laundering. The foreign minister said that 13 countries appreciated Pakistan’s efforts in the FATF meeting.

Separately, Special Assistant to Chief Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan told APP on Feb 26 that under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan, the foundation of a modern and transparent Pakistan had been laid, and the country would come out of the FATF grey list in June this year.

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Noted defence analyst Imtiaz Gul told APP that India, in the wake of its current propaganda campaign through fake media outlets, was trying as part of its proxy war against Pakistan, to mislead the world community on the FATF, Afghanistan and Middle East issues. The neighbouring country was trying its utmost to shift the Afghanistan conflict to sub-conventional level by carrying out terrorist activities against Pakistan, the analyst added. Imtiaz Gul said India had realised that conventional war with Pakistan was now inconceivable due to Pakistan Army’s bravery, befitting replies and nuclear capabilities. That was why, it had launched a propaganda campaign against Pakistan to get it blacklisted by the FATF, he added.

It may be recalled here that during the last plenary discussions, which were held in October 2020, the FATF had announced that Pakistan would continue to remain on its grey list till February 2021, for six out of 27 unsatisfactory action plans, on combating the financing of terrorism (CFT) and anti-money laundering (AML) targets.

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