ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Thursday said that an ‘action plan’ had been negotiated with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to address strategic deficiencies in Pakistan’s anti-money laundering and counterterrorism financing regime, which had been pointed out by the global illicit financing watchdog.

Now that the action plan has been negotiated, Pakistan’s grey listing, which had been decided in February, would take effect. The FATF would officially announce Pakistan’s inclusion in the grey list on Friday.

Responding to reports that the government had failed to prevent Pakistan’s inclusion in the grey list, FO spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal said: “In February 2018, during the FATF plenary session in Paris, it was agreed that Pakistan will be included in the ‘grey list’ in June 2018.”

He noted that it had also been agreed in February that Pakistan and the FATF would negotiate an action plan by June.

“This has been done,” he added.

Terror financing watchdog to announce Islamabad’s inclusion in grey list today

Pakistan reportedly committed to a 26-point action plan, which would be implemented over the next 15 months. Besides other actions, the plan includes squelching of finances of Jamaatud Dawa, Falah-i-Insaniat, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad, Haqqani network and Afghan Taliban. Failure to negotiate the action plan could have led Pakistan to the blacklist.

The deficiencies identified in Pakistani anti-money laundering and counterterrorism financing regime included inadequate monitoring and regulatory mechanisms, low conviction rate on unlawful transactions, poor implementation of United Nations Security Council resolutions 1267 and 1373 and cross-border illicit movement of currency by terrorist groups.

The spokesman reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to implementing the action plan which once implemented would get it out of the grey list.

In its June 9 meeting the National Security Committee had extended the commitment to implement the action plan. The FATF requires high-level political commitment from the country concerned to implement the needed legal, regulatory and operational reforms.

The move to get Pakistan listed was sponsored by the United States and its allies Britain, France, and Germany. It is, therefore, believed that the listing happened as an outcome of deterioration in Pak-US ties, which have been on decline since last year’s announcement of Trump’s South Asia and Afghanistan policy.

Responding to a question, Dr Faisal said that relationship with the US was improving. “Pak-US relationship is on an upward trajectory. The negotiations are ongoing between both sides as we seek to find common ground in the bilateral relationship,” he maintained.

Afghan peace process

The spokesman, in response to a question, again called on warring Afghan factions to commit to ceasefire and engage in peace process.

The Afghan Taliban had resumed fighting after the Eid ceasefire ended. The Afghan government has extended the truce and has been seeking international support for pressuring the Taliban to agree to ceasefire resumption.

“We believe that the ceasefire can be a major confidence building measure. We urge all sides to engage in a process to bring lasting peace in Afghanistan,” Dr Faisal said, adding that Pakistan will extend all support for the Afghan peace process.

Regarding Noor Wali Mehsud succeeding Mullah Fazlullah as head of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, he said Pakistan would use all resources to bring all terrorists to justice irrespective of who leads this terrorist group.

Published in Dawn, June 29th, 2018