Pakistan cries foul over FATF action: Pakistan Finance Minister Asad Umar on Thursday evening expressed apprehensions over his country being judged by a rigged jury at the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) for failing to curb anti-terror financing and money laundering activities. Earlier, Islamabad had submitted a 26-point action plan to the FATF to choke the funding of terrorist groups, including Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed-led JuD and its affiliates, and launched a concerted diplomatic effort to avoid being blacklisted by it.
Responding to a question about what actions the FATF might take in Pakistan’s case, Asad Umar said his country has made significant improvements since the last review. The next review would take place in the middle of May and the deadline for Pakistan to send a report for the review is April 15, but the country would send the report on time and then the review team would visit Pakistan in May but the actual deadline for the final decision is in September, he said.
The Pakistan finance minister also said that he has written a letter to the FATF president asking him to appoint any other member country besides India as co-chair of the Asia-Pacific Joint Group.
Umar alleged that FATF could be India’s best weapon to isolate Pakistan economically because Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is on record saying that New Delhi will use every means at their disposal to economically isolate Pakistan. The minister said with India co-chairing the proceedings, Pakistan did not expect a fair and unbiased decision from the FATF.
In a major blow to Pakistan, the Financial Action Task Force has placed it on the grey list for failing to curb anti-terror financing despite Islamabad submitting a 26-point action plan and launching a concerted diplomatic effort to avert the decision. The placement on the greylist has hurt Pakistan’s economy as well as its international standing. Earlier, the Imran Khan government in Pakistan had urged the FATF to remove the country from its greylist. Pakistan remained on the FATF grey list from 2012 to 2015.
Addressing reporters at the Pakistan Embassy in Washington, Asad Umar said Pakistan was facing three main problems on the economic front — the fiscal deficit, current account deficit and savings and investment gap. He said Pakistan and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have reached an understanding on a package for bailing out the country’s ailing economy. Although Umar did not explain the irritants that still need to be worked out, reports sad the IMF is insisting on a market-oriented exchange rate while Pakistan wants to retain its current approach of a managed float.
The biggest reason behind Pakistan finance minister’s statement is the crisis which is going deeper day by day and with inflation soaring and debt ballooning, Imran Khan’s finance team is desperate to secure a multi-billion-dollar rescue package from the IMF to avoid economic collapse. The current situation of Pakistan right now is so bad that the country is not taking loans to pay off past loans, but to pay off interest.
The FATF is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 by the Ministers of its Member jurisdictions to combat money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.