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Setback for India as Pakistan may be out of FATF 'Grey List' in February

China, which hosted the key meeting of the international terror financing watchdog, said on Thursday that Pakistan has made 'visible progress' to strengthen its counter-terrorism financing system.

Published: 24th January 2020 09:08 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th January 2020 09:18 AM   |  A+A-

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan (File | AFP)

By PTI

NEW DELHI: Pakistan may be out of the 'Grey List' of the international terror financing watchdog FATF next month due to the active support of China and tactical support of some Western countries, an official said on Thursday.

At a meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) held in Beijing, Islamabad submitted its compliance report and got support from the FATF current chair and its "all-weather friend" China and a few Western powers.

China, which hosted the key meeting of the international terror financing watchdog, said on Thursday that Pakistan has made "visible progress" to strengthen its counter-terrorism financing system, which should be encouraged by the world community.

The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Asia Pacific Joint Group met in Beijing this week to scrutinise Pakistan's progress report to adopt stricter laws against terror financing and money laundering.

China is the President of the FATF and co-chair for Asia Pacific Joint Group.

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A Pakistani delegation led by Minister for Economic Affairs Division Hammad Azhar is in Beijing to brief the financial task force about the steps taken by Islamabad to implement the recommendations made by the FATF.

Asked how China viewed Pakistan's progress, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told the media in Beijing that he has no information on the proceedings which is still going on but praised Islamabad's efforts.

"Pakistan has made great efforts to strengthen its domestic counter-terrorism financing system with visible progress. Its political will and active efforts should be recognised and encouraged by the international community," he said.

"We hope the FATF will continue to offer constructive support and assistance to Pakistan in its continued efforts to improve the counter-terrorism financing system and effectively fighting the terrorist financing," he said.

"As FATF president and co-chair for Asia Pacific Joint Group, China will continue to uphold an objective, just and constructive attitude and participate in relevant discussions," he said.

"The next plenary of the FATF will be held in February in Paris and Pakistan needs just 12 votes out of 39 to exit the 'Grey List' and move to 'White List'. There is a strong possibility of Islamabad getting enough support to exit the 'Grey List'," an Indian official privy to the development said.

In recent meetings of FATF, Pakistan has got the support of Malaysia and Turkey besides China.

If Pakistan could convince a few Western nations with their report of taking action against terrorists, the country will be out of FATF 'Grey List', which will be a cause of worry for India, the official said.

If Pakistan comes out of the FATF 'Grey List', it will be easy for the country to get financial aid from the IMF, World Bank, ADB and the European Union, helping improve its precarious financial situation.

The FATF in October last decided to keep Pakistan on its 'Grey' list for failure to curb funnelling of funds to terror groups Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and others.

If not removed off the list by April, Pakistan may move to a blacklist of countries that face severe economic sanctions, such as Iran.

Pakistan has submitted a 650-page review report to the FATF on January 8.

The report was submitted in response to 150 questions raised by the FATF regarding new Pakistani policies on money laundering.

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The report outlined the steps taken by Pakistan between October 2019 to January 2020 to implement the group's recommendations.

The FATF meeting scrutinises whether Pakistan has complied with an earlier agenda presented to it.

"I want to stress that the FATF is an important international cooperation platform and to fight money laundering and terrorist financing its aim and goal is to help countries better fight money laundering and terrorist financing and prevent the international financial system from being abused," Geng said.

The FATF is backed by the UN Security Council passed resolutions which made its recommendations binding and in case of deficiencies, sanctions could be imposed.

In the Beijing meeting, Pakistan provided a list of its action taken to comply with the FATF diktat.

Pakistan was placed on the 'Grey List' by the FATF in June, 2018 and was given a plan of action to complete it by October, 2019 or face the risk of being placed on the blacklist along with Iran and North Korea.

The FATF is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 to combat money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.

The FATF currently has 35 members and two regional organisations -- the European Commission and Gulf Cooperation Council.

India is a member of the FATF consultations and its Asia Pacific Group and was represented in the meeting by a team of officials from the ministries of Home, External Affairs and Finance.

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