FATF meet begins; Pak unlikely to exit ‘Grey List’

at 8:48 pm

Paris/New Delhi (NVI): The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global watchdog on terrorism, began its key 4-day meeting today to decide the fate of Pakistan, amid indications that the country is unlikely to exit the ‘Grey List’.

The FATF plenary, being held virtually by the Paris-based watchdog, will assess whether Pakistan has taken all the 27 mandated steps to curb state support to terrorism.

Pakistan has been in the Grey List since June 2018 – that is under high degree of scrutiny of the FATF in the context of money- laundering and terror-financing.

During the last plenary held in October last year, the FATF had found that Pakistan had failed to fulfil six of the 27 obligations mandated by the watchdog. The failures included concrete action against Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar and Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed, who are masterminds of umpteen terror attacks in India.

Before the current plenary, Pakistan is understood to make its submission on the obligations. The FATF meeting, which will last till February 25, will assess the submission and the claims made therein.

Meanwhile, reports emerging from Paris say that the host France is in favour of keeping Pakistan in the ‘Grey List’ till June at least. The French position is understood to have strong backing of the other European nations, which are convinced that Pakistan has not fulfilled the obligations.

France and other European nations are particularly angry at Pakistan over its behaviour in the context of cartoon controversy and attacks carried out by Islamist radicals in Paris and some other places in Europe.

The US is also unhappy over the recent acquittal of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, a key person involved in the kidnapping and murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl, in Pakistan.

Prior to the October 2020 plenary of the FATF, Pakistan had tried some eye washing by enacting three laws — the Anti-Money Laundering (second amendment) Bill-2020, Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) (third amendment) Bill-2020 and Islamabad Capital Territory Waqf Properties Bill-2020 – to proclaim that it was serious in acting against terror.

However, the FATF was not convinced and retained it in the ‘Grey List till this meeting.