ISLAMABAD: As soon as the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) announced on Friday that Pakistan has met all 34 of its conditions, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan credited his government with leading the country to this achievement.

In a series of tweets, he praised the members of his former cabinet and aides for the eventual steering of the country out of the FATF grey list.

The financial watchdog will now schedule an on-site visit to verify the implementation and sustainability of Pakistan’s money laundering and counter-terrorism financing measures, and remove it from the grey list if it successfully passed the visit ‘test’.

However, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) led coalition government was conspicuously silent over the development.

Ex-PM questions deaths of characters in money laundering case against Shehbaz, Hamza

“FATF repeatedly praised the work and political will my govt demonstrated,” the former prime minister tweeted, adding that when his government came to power [in 2018], it faced the direct prospect of blacklisting by the international body as the country’s compliance history with the FATF was allegedly not encouraging.

“I constituted a FATF Coordination Committee headed by key minister Hammad Azhar. The committee had representation from all government departments and security agencies relevant to our FATF action plan. The officers worked day and night in the first instance to avoid blacklisting.”

Mr Khan further claimed his government not only averted blacklisting, but also completed 32 out of 34 action items. “We submitted a compliance report on the remaining two items in April based on which FATF now declared Pakistan’s Action Plan as completed,” he added.

He expressed confidence that FATF’s on-site visit would also be a success, and lauded former minister Azhar, members of the FATF coordination committee and relevant officers, who “performed exceptionally well”.

Hammad Azhar, who was the then energy minister and also the government’s top coordinator for efforts on anti-money laundering and counter-terror financing, shared a picture of himself along with officers on Twitter, saying Pakistan’s hard work on completing the 34-item action plan was a result of the “teamwork of officers who worked day and night in different government departments. They are the real heroes!”

PTI senior leader and former information minister Fawad Chaudhry, meanwhile, recalled that Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar, who is currently leading Pakistan’s delegation at the task force’s meeting in Berlin, was among those lawmakers who had refused to vote in favour of passing FATF-related bills in 2020.

Also on Friday, the PTI chairman raised questions over the deaths of multiple characters in the multi-billion-rupee money laundering case against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his son Hamza Shehbaz. He said the “imported government” and its allies used the tactics of “mafias” to meet their designs.

Calling Prime Minister Sharif an “imported crime minister”, Mr Khan said: “Questions will be raised on the deaths of witnesses and investigators, when imported crime minister and his allies use mafias’ tactics.”

He claimed that six important personalities associated with the money laundering case had died recently, including Gulzar Ahmed, peon Maqsood Ahmed, Muzammil Raja, Ghulam Shabbir, Dr Rizwan and Imran Raza. “The cause of death of Gulzar Ahmed has yet to be ascertained,” he added.

Meanwhile, the PML-N’s official Twitter account criticised the PTI government for “diplomatically isolating” Pakistan due to which it faced various economic sanctions.

However, it added, the nations of the world had now agreed to restore relations and the world’s confidence in Pakistan was being restored.

Published in Dawn, June 18th, 2022

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