Pakistan’s performance will on Friday be reviewed by the terror watchdog FATF after two days of plenary in France. A crucial point of deliberation has been - "Progress by Iran, Pakistan and other countries that present a risk to the financial system."
While Iran is already in the blacklist of the FATF, the big question is will Pakistan be categorised as one too. For the moment, it appears no.
Sources point out that blocking a blacklisting requires the support of only three countries and they believe that with China, which at the helm of the FATF for now, and Turkey and Malaysia as members of Financial Action Task Force, Pakistan has just enough support to squeeze out of the threat.
India has made an effort to push for the blacklisting, pointing out the poor track record of Pakistan. The government has cited the report by the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering, one of the nine FATF-styled regional groups.
The APG had found Pakistan only partially compliant on 29 out of 40 counts, non-compliant on one count and fully compliant only on just one count.
However, Pakistan took some hurried steps ahead of the FATF plenary as it did last year in June. It arrested four Lashkar-e-Toiba/Jamaat-ud-Dawa terrorists identified as Professor Zafar Iqbal, Yahya Aziz, Muhammad Ashraf and Abdul Salam on charges of terror financing. LeT chief Hafiz Saeed is already under arrest on similar charges.
US state department's Bureau for South and Central Asian Affairs had welcomed the news and asked Pakistan to prosecute the individuals along with Hafiz Saeed. This gave an impression that US may go soft on Pakistan at FATF.
However, a source told News 18 that US was "very tough on Pakistan compliance with FATF and was pushing for blacklisting". However, it was also pointed out that there was a realistic view that under Chinese presidency and "resistance from some members this may not be immediately attainable."
So, this effectively means Pakistan will continue to stay in the FATF grey list for now. But there will be more pressure on Pakistan to comply on agenda items agreed upon June, 2018 where it has been found lacking.
Here's some of what Pakistan could be asked to do - to more proactively crackdown on terror financing against groups operating in Pakistan specifically Da’esh, Al Qaeda, JuD, FiF, LeT, JeM and the Haqqani Network and show demonstrable action at the earliest.
It could also be told to address technical deficiencies in Pakistan’s legal framework without delay to be able to prosecute terrorists identified in terror financing.
In its meeting in Orlando, US in June FATF had said: "The FATF strongly urges Pakistan to swiftly complete its action plan by October 2019 when the last set of action plan items are set to expire. Otherwise, the FATF will decide the next step at that time for insufficient progress."
The FATF currently comprises 37 member jurisdictions - including India and 2 regional organisations. Indonesia is an observer country.