The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global watchdog to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism is scheduled to announce today (Friday) whether Pakistan will be removed from or retained on its increased watchlist, also known as the “grey list”, but the government is hoping the outcome will be in the country’s favour.
The four-day plenary session started in Berlin on Tuesday. FATF officials will hold a press conference at 7:30 p.m. today to report on the results of the session, according to the watchdog website.
Delegates representing 206 FATF members and observers are in attendance at the plenary session. The observers include the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the UN, the World Bank and the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units.
Diplomatic sources told Dawn earlier that China and other allies are slowly working to remove Pakistan from the grey list at the latest plenary session.
Several politicians, mainly from the PTI, and reporters posted on social media today that the FATF had removed Pakistan from the grey list. However, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Hina Rabbani Khar, who heads the Pakistani delegation in Berlin, warned that we must avoid prejudging the results and making speculative reports.
She stressed that the plenary meetings were still in progress and that the FATF would issue a statement tonight following their conclusion.
She added that a news conference will be held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Saturday (tomorrow) in this respect.
A government spokesman told BBC Urdu that the result may be in Pakistan’s favour according to the information available at present. He pointed out, however, that even if the country were removed from the list, it would take seven to eight months to “resolve the issues”.
If Pakistan were to withdraw from the list, a FATF team would visit the country to “ensure that work on its recommendations is completed,” he said.
Pakistan was added to the grey list in June 2018.
Sources told Dawn that an April 9 verdict by an anti-terrorist court in Lahore may also help Pakistan eliminate this stigma. Hafiz Saeed was sentenced to 33 years in prison for terrorism.
Those supporting the decision to remove Pakistan from the list note that the two cases that led to his imprisonment were filed by the Pakistan’s Counterterrorism Department.
In its last plenary, held in Paris in March, the FATF noted that “Pakistan has completed 26 of the 27 actions in its 2018 action plan”. The FATF urged Pakistan “to address, as soon as possible, the final issue of terrorism financing and targeting investigations”, senior officials and commanders of UN-designated terrorist groups.
The FATF acknowledged that Pakistan had also complied with six of its seven action plans in June 2021 to combat money laundering.
At the latest plenary session, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs prepared a presentation to the FATF plenary, showing how Pakistan has performed its 27 tasks.