Pakistan will expedite steps to curb terror financing: interior minister

Published February 24, 2018
Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal speaks to reporters on Saturday.— DawnNews
Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal speaks to reporters on Saturday.— DawnNews

Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Saturday — a day after Pakistan avoided ending up on a terror watch list by a global task force — said that the government will expedite steps to curb terror financing and money laundering.

Pakistan's performance in the war against terrorism was better than others', but it still faced pressure from Washington, the minister said.

Iqbal said the motion put forward against Pakistan by the US was moved on "political basis" with the intention of bringing Pakistan under pressure.

Playing down speculations that the placement on the watch list could have severe economic repercussions for Pakistan, the minister said steps taken by the country against terror financing were not to please FATF or the US but they are "in the interest of our country".

He said being a responsible state, it was Pakistan's duty to ensure implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions as not doing so effectively could give international lobbies the chance to campaign against Pakistan.

Pakistan on Friday escaped a motion to put it on a 'grey list' by the Financial Action Task Force, which met in Paris. The US and Britain had jointly submitted a letter to the FATF, nominating it for placement on the watch list.

Pakistan was on the list from 2012-2015 and feared a return would deter foreign investment and hurt access to international financial markets.

Pakistan set to be 'grey listed'

Although Pakistan did not feature on the list of countries with strategic deficiencies posing a risk to the international financial system issued along with the FATF statement following its plenary meeting, a top official privy to the development confirmed to Dawn that the US succeeded in calling a second vote on Thursday night for its motion to ‘grey list’ Pakistan during which China and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia changed their earlier stance by remaining silent.

The only country left opposing the motion was Turkey which was indicated by a statement shared by Interior Minister Iqbal on Twitter: “Thank you Turkey for standing with Pakistan against all odds and proving that we are one. We are proud to have a brother like you.”

An earlier discussion on the motion, held on Tuesday, saw opposition from China, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, causing the motion to fail.

Later in the evening on Friday, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance, Miftah Ismail, who had been leading Pakistan’s diplomacy to defeat the motion sponsored by the US went on air to confirm that the motion had indeed passed. This happened following an extraordinary second vote that the US managed to arrange on Thursday night, two days after the motion had been defeated in the first round of discussion, a top official confirmed to Dawn.

Pakistan is now set to be ‘grey listed’ by FATF in June, meaning its financial system will be designated as posing a risk to the international financial system because of “strategic deficiencies” in its ability to prevent terror financing and money laundering. In the meantime, the government will work with FATF to build an “action plan” to plug the deficiencies identified by the watchdog, which will be put up for approval by consensus in the June session. After that, implementation of the plan will begin, monitored by the Asia Pacific Group, a part of the global FATF network.

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