ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Thursday categorically rejected as false and baseless a report circulating in the media claiming that Saudi Arabia had voted against Pakistan at a meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

“Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoy strong fraternal ties and the two countries have always cooperated with each other on all matters of bilateral, regional and international importance,” FO spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said.

“Pakistan greatly values its relations with the brotherly Saudi Arabia and firmly rejects such malicious propaganda,” he added.

The FATF, the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog, would on Friday (today) decide whether or not Pakistan would remain on its list of ‘jurisdictions under increased monitoring’, which is more commonly known as the ‘grey list’.

FATF to decide today whether or not Islamabad will remain on grey list

The FO spokesman said: “FATF will announce its assessment of Pakistan’s progress on the action plan and the future course of action after conclusion of its plenary meeting”.

The three-day virtual plenary session of FATF, which started on Wednesday, would announce its findings on Friday.

FATF would during the current session review Pakistan’s progress on the 27-point action plan for addressing the deficiencies in its anti-money laundering and counter-terror financing regimes.

Pakistan has been on the FATF’s grey list since June 2018. The grey list comprises countries being monitored by the illicit financing watchdog.

Pakistan was originally required to complete the requirements of the action plan by the end of 2019. However, a four-month extension was later allowed. Pakistan’s case could not be discussed in June because of a decision of FATF to suspend the ICRG (International Cooperation Review Group) review process for the countries on the grey list due to Covid-19 pandemic.

Pakistani officials have been hopeful of a positive outcome, especially after the recent legislation by parliament on counter-terror financing and money laundering.

At the FO weekly briefing, Mr Chaudhri also rejected fake news carried by Indian media about ‘civil war in Karachi’ saying it was done at the behest of the Indian government.

“Such attempts by the Indian media at the behest of the Pakistan-obsessed BJP-RSS regime are reflective of a particular, though familiar, mindset. Needless to say that Indian media continues to hit new lows,” he said.

“India cannot wash away the truth about its own gross and systematic human rights violations in IIOJK [Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir] and unabated anti-minorities policies and actions through peddling fake news and running its propaganda machinery overtime,” he further said.

“Rather than reporting on the humanitarian crisis in IIOJK, the Indian media chooses to spread fake and sensationalist news about Pakistan to detract from core issues,” he maintained.

The spokesman advised the Indian government and media to focus on the protests and unrest currently under way in India over BJP regime’s discriminatory policies deliberately targeting minorities.

Pakistan warned India of a “full spectrum response” in case of any misadventure in Gilgit-Baltistan or Azad Jammu and Kashmir, adds APP.

As Gilgit Baltistan gears up for general elections on Nov 15, the FO spokesperson in reaction to “ironic and provocative” statements of senior Indian political and military leaders said any misadventure by India would invite a befitting response.

“In case of any misadventure by India, Pakistan’s actions will speak louder than India’s words,” he said.

Published in Dawn, October 23rd, 2020

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