The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global money laundering and terrorism financing watchdog, is set to take up removal of Pakistan from a list of countries under "increased monitoring" when its plenary session will conclude in Paris on Friday.
In a meeting in June, the FATF said it was keeping Pakistan on the list -- also known as the ‘grey list’ -- but said it might be removed after an on-site visit to verify progress.
Last month, the Foreign Office said a FATF technical team had conducted a “successful” visit and Islamabad was expecting a “logical conclusion” of the evaluation process in October.
If removed from the list, Pakistan would essentially receive a reputational boost and get a clean bill of health from the international community on terrorist financing.
If sources -- both in the government and the diplomatic community -- are to be believed, Pakistan is likely to get the clean bill and would be removed from the watch list.
Read more: What would it mean for Pakistan to exit FATF grey list?
Among other issues on the agenda, the FATF in its two-day meeting in the French capital would be examining the on-site assessment report of the technical team that visited Pakistan in September to verify the steps taken by the country with regard to implementing the plan of action.
In September, a 15-member FATF team quietly visited Pakistan, a final step before the country’s exit from the grey list. The findings of the team would be discussed in the Paris meeting.
The positive outcome of the on-site team’s findings would allow Pakistan to finally come clean over deficiencies in the system to curb money laundering and terror financing.
The official sources confirmed that the FATF team, which was given a state guest-level protocol, stayed in the country from August 29 to September 2.
The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet approved a special grant of Rs7 million for the FATF Secretariat to provide the team accommodation, food and travel.
The visit was kept under wraps but the sources said the FATF delegation held meetings with the relevant authorities and verified the steps Pakistan had taken to fulfil the conditions of the watchdog.
The FATF, in June, had hinted at Pakistan’s removal from the grey list after it concluded that Pakistan complied with the 34-point plan of action and agreed to send its team for the verification of those steps.
Pakistan was listed in 2018 because of “strategic counter-terrorist financing-related deficiencies”. FATF gave the country a wide-ranging reforms programme. It was first given a 27-point action plan and later another 7-point plan to comply with the FATF’s standards.
The major stumbling block was the prosecution of certain UNSC-designated individuals accused of terror financing. Just days before the June plenary FATF meeting in Berlin, Pakistani anti-terrorism court convicted Sajid Mir in a terror financing case, something that convinced the FATF members to acknowledge Pakistan’s progress.
Pakistani officials were confident that the FATF team would give a positive assessment of the country’s progress. The officials, however, cautioned that the neighbouring country might still use its influence to drag Pakistan’s case.
The United States is believed to have played a key role in ensuring the on-site visit for Pakistan as it expressed satisfaction with the country’s measures to curb terror financing, particularly prosecuting the certain individuals.
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