Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Saturday said there was “no room" to keep Pakistan on the FATF’s ‘grey list’ since it has implemented 26 out of the 27 points of the action handed out by the global body against money laundering and terror financing. Qureshi’s comments came a day after the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), during its plenary meeting from June 21-25, retained Pakistan in its ‘grey list’ for failing to check money laundering, leading to terror financing.
It also asked Islamabad to investigate and prosecute senior leaders and commanders of UN-designated terror groups, including Hafiz Saeed and Masood Azhar. He said that whatever steps Pakistan took were in its own interests and added that it is in the country’s interest to stop money laundering and terror financing.
Qureshi said “some powers" desired to keep Pakistan in the FATF’s ‘grey list’ and it needs to be looked at whether the global forum is being used for political purposes. However, he did not elaborate. He said the FATF itself has accepted that Pakistan has implemented 26 out of 27 action plans whereas significant progress has been made on the 27th one.
There is no room to keep Pakistan in the grey list after it has implemented 26 out of 27 action plans of the FATF, he said. He said it has to be determined whether the FATF is a technical forum or a political one, state-run Radio Pakistan reported.
Addressing a virtual press conference, FATF President Marcus Pleyer on Friday said the Pakistan government has failed to check the risk of money laundering, leading to corruption and terror financing. “The FATF encourages Pakistan to continue to make progress to address as soon as possible the one remaining Combating the Financing of Terrorism (CFT)-related item by demonstrating that Terror Financing (TF) investigations and prosecutions target senior leaders and commanders of UN designated terrorist groups," an FATF statement said.
The UN designated terrorists based in Pakistan include Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Azhar, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) founder Saeed and its ‘operational commander’ Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi. Noting that Pakistan has now completed 26 of the 27 action items given to it in 2018, Pleyer said the FATF has asked Pakistan to take action against UN designated terrorists.
Pakistan has been on the FATF’s grey list for deficiencies in its counter-terror financing and anti-money laundering regimes since June 2018.