Pakistan’s FATF challenge

If the game is played as per the laid-down rules, Pakistan can easily overcome the first hurdle in Paris

Editorial February 17, 2019

The Financial Action Task Force’s decision to place Pakistan on the grey list has affected lives of common Pakistanis in many ways. The philanthropist organisations are also facing problems in getting listed with the government for receiving foreign aid.

Exactly after one year of taking the decision to place Pakistan on the grey list, the FATF plenary would hold first review of implementation on 27-point Action Plan that it had prescribed to get out of special regime. Pakistan believes that it has taken all the five actions for the planned February review but India is expected to play the spoiler’s role and may push the case to get tougher on eight proscribed organisations.

India had also tried creating problems for Pakistan during the Joint Review Group of Asia Pacific Group meetings held in Sydney last month in preparation for the FATF plenary meetings. It may again try to exploit the situation after Pulwama attacks in India-Occupied Kashmir. One of the eight proscribed organisations has accepted responsibility for these attacks, which may provide a reason to the Indian delegation to push its case hard. Pakistan has to be proactive on the sidelines of the FATF to neutralise the possible Indian move.

If the game is played as per the laid-down rules, Pakistan can easily overcome the first hurdle in Paris. The FATF will review progress in four key areas –Terrorism Financing Risk Assessment report, report of the customs department on cash couriers, implementation on the United Nations Security Council resolutions and inter-agency coordination. Five action plans emanating from these core areas have been met and the concerns raised by the Asia Pacific Group in light of Indian objections have also been responded.

After February review, the FATF will conduct two more reviews. A possible clean chit from the FATF during the first review should not make Pakistani authorities complacent. Next targets are more steep and challenging. The institutional framework that is in place is not equipped to meet these challenges. The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, State Bank of Pakistan, National Counter Terrorism Authority and the law-enforcement agencies ought to be gelled together and more proactive to meet these goals.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 17th, 2019.

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