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Substantive progress made on FATF items, says FO

Substantive progress made on FATF items, says FO

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Friday said that Pakistan had made substantive progress on the remaining items of the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) Action Plan.

“FATF had assessed Pakistan to have completed 21 of the 27 Action Items under the current Action Plan. In the remaining six partially addressed items, significant progress has been made by Pakistan, which is duly acknowledged by the wider FATF membership,” Foreign Office Spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said at the weekly media briefing.

Pakistan, he said, remained committed to completing the implementation of the FATF Action Plan.

Working groups start meetings ahead of Feb 22 plenary session

Mr Chaudhri made these comments as the FATF’s working groups started their meetings ahead of the upcoming plenary session, which would be held virtually from Feb 22 to 25. The plenary meeting would decide Pakistan’s case after assessing the progress made by the country on the action plan given by the illicit financing watchdog.

Pakistan has been on the FATF’s ‘grey list’ for deficiencies in its counter-terror financing and anti-money laundering regimes since 2018.

In its last meeting held in October last year, the watchdog had decided to retain Pakistan on the list of ‘jurisdiction under enhanced monitoring’ till the review in February 2021 when the status of its compliance with recommendations would be reassessed.

Pakistan till the last assessment was found to have not adequately acted against the organisations linked to the terror groups listed by the UN Security Council; and regarding prosecution and conviction of banned individuals. Similarly, it was said to have done little to tackle terror financing through smuggling of narcotics and precious stones.

Pakistan has lately taken further steps to convince the FATF to normalise its status. These actions included the prosecution of Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed and his associates in terror financing cases.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, while briefing the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee a couple of weeks ago, hoped that the FATF would delist Pakistan from its grey list at its next plenary meeting.

Mr Chaudhri, while responding to another question at the briefing, said: “As a responsible state, Pakistan remains firmly committed to peace in the region and beyond.”

The spokesman criticised India for its “hegemonic and expansionist designs” and “irresponsible actions” that were imperiling regional peace and security.

Noting that India had troubled relations with its neighbours, he asked Delhi to undertake “a serious course correction” for the sake of peace and security in the region.

While commenting on reports of disengagement between China and India after months of stand-off at the disputed border, he said: “We hope that the issue will be resolved as per the agreed understandings and available mechanism.”

Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday informed the parliament that an agreement had been reached with China on disengagement “on the north and south banks of the Pangong lake.”

The standoff had started in April.

Published in Dawn, February 13th, 2021

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