The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the postponement of several international events. Though some emergency multilateral meetings like that of the G20 have taken place via video conferencing to take decisions under these extraordinary circumstances, but many are mulling postponements wherever possible over the next few months.
Under the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), all jurisdictions in the grey list have now been extended till October. A source said the FATF decision would mean that Pakistan continues to stay in the grey list of the terror financing watchdog at least till February, 2021. Here’s how.
The FATF-style regional body, Asia Pacific Group (APG)’s review meeting in May that would have also looked into Pakistan’s compliance and made recommendations to FATF now stands postponed.
The APG has already announced that its annual meeting in July in Dhaka, Bangladesh, can’t take place under current circumstances.
In the absence of review meeting recommendations, the FATF plenary in June will be unable to take a call on Pakistan. In February, Pakistan got a grace time till the June plenary of the FATF to show that it had acted on the agenda items it promised to in 2018 to curb terror funding. Pakistan had failed to show any concrete action on 13 out of 27 such items in February.
So far, there is no confirmation with regard to the June FATF plenary that is scheduled to take place in China. The FATF calendar mentions ‘TBC’ (to be confirmed) against the June 21-26 plenary.
The next plenary of the FATF will take place in October and since an on-site visit also needs to be done by an FATF team to see on-ground compliance of Pakistan, the next decision on the country’s fate in the FATF can only be taken in February, 2021, as per the assessment of officials.
Pakistan has been trying to exit the grey list even though at one stage between end of 2019 and beginning this year there was a clear danger of it being blacklisted.
It managed to avert being blacklisted in February by taking some measures like initiating action against UNSC 1267 committee proscribed terrorist Hafiz Saeed in cases related to terror financing.
With China in the FATF president’s chair and the US in the midst of talks with Taliban at the time in Afghanistan, Pakistan found a way out.
The US had referred to Saeed’s conviction as an “important step forward” just ahead of the February FATF plenary. Sources had told News18 that remaining in the grey list would keep up the pressure on Pakistan to continue to act against terror financing.