ISLAMABAD: In a major development, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on Friday removed Pakistan from its ‘grey list’, acknowledging the country’s progress to fully comply with the plan of action.
“The FATF welcomes Pakistan’s significant progress in improving its AML/CFT regime. Pakistan has strengthened the effectiveness of its AML/CFT regime and addressed technical deficiencies to meet the commitments of its action plans regarding strategic deficiencies that the FATF identified in June 2018 and June 2021, the latter of which was completed in advance of the deadlines, encompassing 34 action items in total. Pakistan is therefore no longer subject to the FATF’s increased monitoring process.
“Pakistan will continue to work with APG to further improve its AML/CFT system,” a statement issued by the FATF in Paris read.
The two-day plenary apart from other issues examined the assessment of an on-site team that visited Pakistan in September to verify the steps taken by the country to implement the plan of action.
In September, a 15-member FATF team quietly visited Pakistan, a final step before the country’s exit from the grey list. The findings of the team would be discussed and reviewed in the next meeting of the FATF in its upcoming plenary session.
The FATF, in June, had hinted at Pakistan’s removal from the grey list after it concluded that Pakistan complied with the 34-point plan of action and agreed to send its team for the verification of those steps.
Pakistan was placed on the grey list by the FATF in June 2018 for deficiencies in its system to curb money laundering and terror financing. It was first given a 27-point action plan and later another 7-point plan to comply with the FATF’s standards.
The major stumbling block was the prosecution of certain UNSC designated individuals accused of terror financing. Just days before the June plenary FATF meeting in Berlin, Pakistani anti-terrorism court convicted Sajid Mir in terror financing case, something that convinced the FATF members to acknowledge Pakistan’s progress.
Pakistani officials were confident that the FATF team would give positive assessment of the country’s progress. Officials, however, cautioned that India might still use its influence to drag Pakistan’s case.
The United States is believed to have played a key role in ensuring the onsite visit for Pakistan as it expressed satisfaction with the country’s measures to curb terror financing, particularly prosecuting the certain individuals.
The exit from the FATF grey list will restore Pakistan’s image and give confidence to the foreign investors for doing ventures in the country. The grey-listing makes it hard for countries to do financial transactions and raises the cost of doing business.
Pakistan’s removal from the grey list will help give impetus to its struggling economy.
‘Vindication of Pakistan’s determined efforts’
Reacting to the development, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said Pakistan exiting the FATF grey list is a vindication of the country’s determined and sustained efforts over the years.
“I would like to congratulate our civil & military leadership as well as all institutions whose hard work led to today’s success,” he wrote on his official Twitter handle while congratulating the nation.
In a follow-up tweet, the PM “particularly” commended the role and efforts of Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto, Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and their teams. He also felicitated “all political parties” for putting up a united front to get Pakistan out of the grey list.
“Congratulations to the people of Pakistan. Pakistan has officially been removed from the FATF ‘grey list’. Pakistan Zindabad,” said Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in a tweet.
PTI leader and former federal minister for economic affairs Hammad Azhar said FATF removed Pakistan from the grey list after it reviewed steps taken by the country from October 2018 to March 2022 — the period when the PTI was in power.
“The entire nation and in particular the officers who have been involved in this process for three years deserve appreciation,” he wrote on his Twitter handle.__Tribune.com