ISLAMABAD: Noting that the United Kingdom’s decision to include Pakistan in the list of money laundering and terrorist financing high-risk countries was not based on facts, Pakistan on Monday expressed the hope that the “UK would review its regulations in light of facts on ground and avoid politically motivated and misplaced measures”.

The UK is reported to have added Pakistan to the list of 21 countries that were part of Schedule 3ZA (High-Risk Countries) under its Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (Amendment) (High-Risk Countries) Regulations 2021.

Reacting to the move, Foreign Office spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhry said: “Pakistan has a robust AML/CFT [anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism] regime in place.” In a statement, he said that over the last two years Pakistan had taken “unprecedented measures through a series of legislative, institutional and administrative actions in the domain of anti-money laundering and countering financing of terrorism”.

These actions, which have also been reported to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and shared with the European Union, have been widely acknowledged by the international community, it said, adding that near completion of the FATF action plan through 24 out of 27 action items “is a testament to Pakistan’s commitment and tangible actions in AML/CFT domain”.

Islamabad strongly condemns killing of three Kashmiris by Indian forces

Pakistan has been on the FATF’s grey list for deficiencies in its counter-terror financing and anti-money laundering regimes since June 2018. During its last plenary session in February this year, the FATF had observed that while Islamabad had made “significant progress”, there remained some “serious deficiencies” in mechanisms to plug terrorism financing. At the same time, FATF President Dr Marcus Pleyer had said that 24 of the 27 points agreed upon by Pakistan as part of its action plan had been complied with.

Meanwhile, Pakistan has strongly condemned the extrajudicial killing of three Kashmiris, including a 14-year-old juvenile and a student of 10th grade, by Indian occupation forces during a so-called “cordon-and-search” operation in the Shopian area of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).

“The further intensification of fake encounters is a matter of grave concern. Extrajudicial killings of young men, including teenage boys, and refusal to return human remains of those martyred is completely unlawful and reflects the moral bankruptcy of the Indian occupation forces,” the Foreign Office said in a statement on Monday. It said Pakistan had repeatedly called for independent investigations, under international scrutiny, into the extrajudicial killings of all innocent Kashmiris.

“We call upon the international community to hold India accountable for the gross and systematic human rights violations in IIOJK and work for peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the relevant UNSC resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people,” the statement added.

Published in Dawn, April 13th, 2021

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