At last the Asia-Pacific joint group of the global watchdog on terror financing and money laundering, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), has admitted that Pakistan has met most of the key terms of the body. The encouraging feedback means the country is going off the grey list and a formal announcement is expected at a plenary meeting of the body to be held in Paris in March. The development is a great success for the government. Pakistan suffered financial as well as strategic jitters when FATF placed it on the grey list in 2018, slapping it with a 27-point list of demands. Since then, the government’s journey to plug loopholes in money laundering and terror financing laws has covered many milestones like freezing the funds of Taliban-affiliated outfits and Hafiz Saeed and his LeT. In several meetings of the FATF forum, Pakistani delegates would be harshly grilled for failing to meet international standards. Every meeting ended with a string of warnings and reminders about legal measures and necessary laws. The Beijing meeting has passed Pakistan’s actions on 14 points. In October, the body was hardly convinced on five points.
Money laundering and terror financing are global issues but Pakistan has been under FATF scrutiny since 2008. The body placed Islamabad on its grey list for the first time in 2012. It remained there till 2015, and when Pakistan began decisive actions against terror groups alongside the Rah-e-Nijat operation, bringing down terror incidents considerably, the body removed it from the list. The body struck the country once again in 2018, and this time with far more aggression. All leading financial institutions also pressured Pakistan to address FATF concerns. On occasions, Pakistan complained about Indian politics behind the warnings. Despite all dirty politics and tricks, Pakistan’s efforts were finally acknowledged by a majority of members. In this regard, China’s role is excellent, while Turkey and Malaysia also openly helped Pakistan beat the grey list. The US delegates also found Pakistan’s actions encouraging.