The Virtual Meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global body to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, will take place between October 21 and October 23. The decision to remove Pakistan from the gray list is expected.
Observers say the FATF will continue to put pressure on Pakistan and it will be difficult for Pakistan to get out of the gray list.
It may be recalled that the FATF had provided Pakistan with a list of 27 points. By February this year, Pakistan had implemented 14 of these points. However, the FATF had directed Pakistan to implement the remaining 13 points while keeping it on the gray list.
The FATF had urged Pakistan to expedite the completion of its entire action plan by June this year. Otherwise, it will be added to the watchdog’s list, commonly referred to as the watchdog’s ‘blacklist’.
Measures of the Government of Pakistan
The Government of Pakistan assured the Financial Action Task Force that it would develop an effective system to examine other issues, including necessary legislation, within the stipulated time frame.
The government of Pakistan had informed the parliament on July 28 this year about the completion of 10 out of 27 points and the situation.
A joint sitting of parliament last month considered the terms of the FATF and agreed to improve Pakistan’s legal system in line with international standards and FATF requirements. In this regard, Parliament has also approved amendments to 15 laws.
Despite all these measures, analysts are predicting that Pakistan’s difficulties at next week’s FATF Asia-Pacific Summit may be lessened but not eliminated.
‘India is trying to keep Pakistan on gray list’
Dr. Rasool Bakhsh Raees, Professor of Political Science and Analyst at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), believes that the steps and legislation that Pakistan has taken to get out of the gray list are very encouraging. But in the decision to be taken, according to him, India is trying to keep Pakistan in the gray list.
Talking to VOA, Prof. Dr. Rasool Bakhsh Raees said that he thinks the pressure of FATF on Pakistan will continue.
He further said that if Pakistan gets out of the gray list, it will be a great achievement. The FATF may say that the steps taken by Pakistan are not enough.
International affairs analyst Prof. Dr. Hassan Askari says that Pakistan has taken steps and some legislation at the behest of the FATF. It seems that the FATF will be satisfied with Pakistan’s actions. But international forces will want to keep up the pressure.
Talking to VOA, Prof. Dr. Hassan Askari said that it is possible that the FATF, despite appreciating the steps taken by Pakistan, will keep it on the gray list.
He further said that FATF would definitely appreciate Pakistan’s initiatives but would not.
Cases against Hafiz Saeed
The government of Pakistan has registered a total of seven cases against Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the leader of the banned Jamaat-ud-Dawa, in different cities of the Punjab province of Pakistan, as per the terms of the FATF. Of these, three cases are registered in Lahore, one in Multan, two in Sahiwal and one in Gujranwala.
Hafiz Saeed was arrested by the Punjab Anti-Terrorism Department in July 2019 on his way from Lahore to Gujranwala.
He has been convicted in two of the seven cases registered against the Jamaat-ud-Dawa leader.
Cases against the central leadership of Jamaat-ud-Dawa
According to the Punjab Home Department, a total of 41 cases have been registered against the central leadership of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, including Hafiz Muhammad Makki and Yahya Mujahid, out of which challans have been filed against the accused in 37 cases.
According to the Punjab Home Department, the central leadership of Jamaat-ud-Dawa has been sentenced in 13 cases. According to the department, cases have been registered against Hafiz Mohammad Saeed and other leaders under provisions related to money laundering and financing of terrorists.
Custody of banned party institutions
The Punjab government has taken over schools, madrassas, hospitals, ambulances, dispensaries, blood banks and laboratories run by Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Welfare for Humanity Foundation.
The government has appointed administrators in these institutions. All these institutions are now practically under the control of the government and the government is running these institutions.
Cases and sentences
The FATF has asked Pakistan to take legal action against banned organizations and their affiliates and bring them to justice.
In August this year, the Pakistani government announced sanctions against 88 such individuals, subject to FATF conditions. Who had links to allegedly extremist organizations. These extremist organizations include the Islamic State (ISIS), al-Qaeda and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.
37 cases against the central leadership of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, including Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, are pending in the anti-terrorism court.
What is FATF?
The Financial Action Task Force is an international organization consisting of representative organizations from different countries. Its main purpose is to prevent the international financial system from being used for extremism and terrorism.
The FATF added Pakistan to its gray list in June 2018. The purpose was to test what practical steps Pakistan is taking to curb extremism, terrorism and terrorist financing.
The FATF had given Pakistan until October 2019 to do so. Which was later extended for four months. In February 2020, the FATF recognized that Pakistan had complied with 14 of the 27 demands made by the FATF. Despite this, the FATF expressed concern over the fact that Pakistan had been placed on the gray list for not taking any significant steps in this regard.
‘Global politics has always influenced FATF meetings’
According to Dr. Rasool Bakhsh Raees, Pakistan has played an important role in the dialogue between Afghanistan and the United States and Pakistan wants to reap the benefits.
He said the role of the United States in the Asia-Pacific group could not be ascertained as Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and China could play a role in the group but India’s influence was too great. ۔
In the opinion of Dr. Rasool Bakhsh, Pakistan should benefit from the actions it has taken against extremist and banned organizations, but not all decisions at the FATF meeting are on merit.
According to Rasool Bakhsh Raees, world politics has always been influential in the FATF meeting and it will continue to be so. It remains to be seen to what extent the United States can help Pakistan. If US help is involved then Pakistan will get out and if it is not then it will be difficult.
Dr. Hassan Askari believes that the role that Pakistan has played in the dialogue between the Taliban and the United States will not directly benefit Pakistan, but the United States has a positive impression of Pakistan.
According to him, the United States will have to make a policy decision on Pakistan before this meeting. Pakistan has cooperated in Afghanistan and now Pakistan needs cooperation for the agreement and Pakistan has taken some steps.
According to Dr. Hassan Askari, the advantage of the measures taken against extremist and banned organizations is that Pakistan will present its report to the FATF, which they will appreciate, but international politics at the moment is such that The US would like to put pressure on Pakistan.
Gray list and white list
The meeting in October this year will decide whether to keep Pakistan on the gray list or blacklist, ie to declare Pakistan a country where money laundering and terrorism are not financed. Or impose severe economic sanctions on Pakistan by blacklisting it like North Korea and Iran.
In the opinion of Dr. Rasool Bakhsh, if Pakistan moves from the gray list to the white list, there will be a lot of encouragement to invest in Pakistan and a positive message about Pakistan will go around the world.
He added that if Pakistan moves from the gray list to the blacklist, there will be a lot of complications for Pakistan in terms of trade, foreign investment and foreign exchange.
According to Dr. Hassan Askari, if Pakistan goes on the blacklist and it suffers when other countries stop doing business with Pakistan, which cannot be expected. But it may be that if Pakistan moves from the gray list to the white list immediately, it will not make much difference because Pakistan’s trade is with the world on a limited scale and it will continue to do so.
According to him, one of the disadvantages of Pakistan being blacklisted could be that it would be easier for India to propagate against Pakistan. This is how a diplomatic dispute escalates.
In accordance with the requirements of the FATF, Pakistan has frozen the assets of banned organizations and has taken stern action against several leading individuals associated with these organizations. Pakistan has also taken strong action against these organizations identified by the United States.
It should be noted that FATF had included Pakistan in the gray list in June 2018.