'Disgraceful': Politicians question FATF after India 'admits interference' to keep Pakistan on grey list

Published July 19, 2021
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi (L), PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif (M) and Energy Minister Hammad Azhar. — AP/File, AFP/File, DawnNewsTV/File
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi (L), PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif (M) and Energy Minister Hammad Azhar. — AP/File, AFP/File, DawnNewsTV/File

Leaders from across the political divide took to social media to criticise India for its recent admission that the Narendra Modi government had ensured Pakistan remained on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) grey list.

Amidst the outburst, there were also calls for the FATF to issue a clarification over "India's admission", which was seen as a vindication of Pakistan's longstanding stance that India had politicised the global financial watchdog and "interfered in the workings of a technical forum".

The FATF's decision to not only keep Pakistan on the grey list but its imposition of a new action plan for the country last month had raised eyebrows with many analysts saying the goalpost for Pakistan had been shifted despite its high level of compliance.

A day ago, India's Minister for External Affairs S Jaishankar said the Modi-led Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) government had ensured that Pakistan remained on the FATF 'grey list', Hindustan Times reported.

“Due to us, Pakistan is under the lens of FATF and it was kept in the grey list," Jaishankar was quoted as saying while addressing a virtual training programme on foreign policy for BJP leaders.

Responding to the admission, Foreign Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that Pakistan "consistently maintained" that India had politicised FATF and the recent Indian statement had made "clear their malintent".

"Manipulating an important technical forum for narrow political designs against Pakistan is disgraceful but not surprising for the Modi government," he tweeted.

Federal Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar also said that the Indian external affairs minister's statement "only confirms what Pakistan has been saying all along; India actively politicises & undermines the technical processes and spirit of FATF".

He added that Pakistan's progress in fulfilling the FATF's action plan items was "undeniable" and it would soon complete its action plans.

Meanwhile, Federal Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari alleged that the Modi-led government's "frustration at its failed Pak[istan] policies" had pushed it to "acts of desperation".

She said the statement by the Indian foreign minister showed India was trying to "destroy [the] credibility" of international institutions like FATF by seeking to "undermine its technical working through political machinations".

"India's membership of the FATF becomes a 'question mark' under the Modi[-led] government's funding of terrorism in the neighbourhood," Mazari tweeted.

"So is India influencing the world’s anti-money laundering task force?" quipped Minister for Shipping and Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi.

PML-N President and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif said India's admission raised "serious questions on the integrity of FATF's decision-making process".

"The watchdog must clarify that it is not being used against Pakistan at the behest of others!" Shehbaz demanded.

The Foreign Office, in its response earlier in the day, that Pakistan's longstanding stance on "India's negative role" in the global financial watchdog had been vindicated and the Indian foreign minister's statement had exposed India's "true colours" and "duplicitous" role.

The FO statement said that Pakistan would continue exposing India's role to the international community by bringing the recent "confession" to the FATF's and international community's notice. It added that Pakistan was also considering approaching the financial watchdog for "appropriate action" in the matter.

FATF assessment of Pakistan

The FATF had on June 25 announced that Pakistan will continue to remain on the watchdog's "increased monitoring list" till it addresses the single remaining item on the original action plan agreed to in June 2018 as well as all items on a parallel action plan handed out by the watchdog's regional partner — the Asia Pacific Group (APG) — in 2019.

After the FATF decision, Energy Minister Hammad Azhar had also lashed out at India's involvement, saying its face had been "badly unveiled" and it had "overplayed its hand", because of which everyone now knew that it had one purpose – to politicise the FATF.

"I think India's thoughts and politicisation efforts there [in the forum] are losing weight with time because they have become so visible," he had said.

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