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Pakistan playing same old game to beat FATF grey list

Pakistan always tries to show ahead of the FATF meetings that it is taking action against terrorists who are then allowed to go back to their old ways after the meeting is over

Pakistan has launched an aggressive diplomatic effort in a desperate move to try and exit the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global watchdog to combat financing of terrorism.

According to the Express Tribune, a Pakistani newspaper, Pakistan has reached out to member countries of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in an effort to garner their support for exiting from the grey

list, just days ahead of a meeting which is set to begin on February 22. This year the session would be held virtually. The four-day meeting would decide whether to keep Pakistan in the grey list or not.

Although Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi sounded optimistic about the outcome of the upcoming FATF meeting, officials admitted that Pakistan would remain in the grey list at least until June, the paper says.

Pakistan requires about 15 votes to move out of the grey list and a minimum of three votes to avoid falling into the blacklist. The FATF currently has 39 full members.

Pakistan has still got to meet 13 of the 27 parameters laid down by the FATF to show that it is not linked to terror financing in order to come out of the grey list. While it will get the three votes of friends China, Turkey, and Malaysia to escape the black list, it will also need approval from 12 out of the FATF’s 39 members to exit the “grey list,” which it has not been able to get so far.

Last year too, Pakistan could not get its name removed from the grey list despite hiring a top US lobbying firm and offering its leverage with the Taliban to the US for reduction of violence in Afghanistan.

The virtual plenary of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), held on October 21-23, concluded that Pakistan will continue to remain in its "grey" list till February 2021.

Pakistan had failed to fulfil six of the 27 mandates given to check terror funding and was told to impose sanctions and prosecute those involved in terror financing. The FATF had observed that Pakistan needs to do more on checking terror funding.

“Over the past few days, the Foreign Office has been inviting ambassadors and diplomats of FATF-member countries to brief them about the ‘substantive progress’ made by Pakistan to implement the 27-point action plan,” officials familiar with the development told Express Tribune.

Pakistan has been on the ‘grey list’ since June 2018 for failing to take adequate steps to counter terror financing, money laundering and ensure successful prosecution of terrorists.

Pakistan had been given a 27-point action plan to get out of the grey list. Islamabad was given multiple deadlines to implement the plan. In October last year, the FATF acknowledged Pakistan’s progress but called for the full implementation of the plan by February this year.

Pakistan always tries to show ahead of the FATF meetings that it is taking action against terrorists who are then allowed to go back to their old ways after the meeting is over. For instance, Lashkar-e Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed, involved in 26/11 Mumbai attacks has been sentenced to prison but is allowed to stay in his own house and lead a normal life. This has been a regular pattern in which terrorists are put in jail in the run-up to the FATF meeting and given bail and allowed to roam free after the meeting is over.