Global watchdog places Pak on terror 'grey list'

Pakistan Interior minister Ahsan Iqbal

Pakistan Interior minister Ahsan Iqbal

At the urging of the Trump administration, an worldwide task force has chose to place Pakistan on a terrorism-financing watch list, a decision that has stunned and alarmed Pakistani officials and one that could deliver a major blow to the nation's economy. Weeks earlier, Islamabad had placed Hafiz Saeed and other assorted radical persons and outfits on their terrorist watch list to ease increasing United States pressure to do more against terrorists.

The task force was created in 1989 to fight money laundering before its mandate extended to fight terrorism financing. The move comes days after reports that Pakistan had been given a three-month reprieve before being placed on the list, which could hamper banking and hurt foreign investment. The only country left opposing the motion was Turkey which was indicated by a statement shared by Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Twitter. He also thanked Turkey for its support. The objectives of the FATF are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the global financial system.

The FATF warned that that action could be taken in June against Iran if progress is not made. After that, implementation of the plan will begin, monitored by the Asia Pacific Group, a part of the global FATF network.

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The task force's plenary will decide and an announcement is expected either way on Friday evening when the body wraps up its three days of deliberations.

Earlier, Pakistan had lobbied for support in western capitals and even turned to Russian Federation to prevent its inclusion in the grey list, from which it was removed in 2015 after three years.

"Government's dismal diplomacy and nonchalant attitude will probably result in Pak being placed on FATF Grey List again today". More specifically the concern was about Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation being allowed to operate in the country, and Hafiz Saeed being free to organise rallies and raise funds.

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Additionally, President Mamnoon Hussain on Feb 9 had quietly promulgated an ordinance amending the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 with regards to proscription of terrorist individuals and organisations to include entities listed by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) - in a move that would end a longstanding ambiguity over the status of the JuD and FIF by firmly placing them on the list of proscribed groups.

Pakistan foreign office spokesperson Mohammed Faisal said, "Pakistan has serious concerns over and objections to the introduction of this new nomination procedure which is unprecedented and in clear violation of established rules/practices of FATF". He added that the fundamentals of the country's economy are strong.

"The worldwide community has consistently expressed its long-standing concerns about ongoing deficiencies in Pakistan's implementation of its anti-money laundering/counterterrorism finance regime".

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