FATF Blacklist Threat Still Hangs Over Pakistan

For the last few months, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s led PTI government and the military establishment have claimed that Pakistan will be removed from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)’s grey list —this refers to countries tagged as prone to illicit financial activity, and reaffirm perceptions that the country cossets terror groups, their leaders and their financial activities. However, Pakistan’s Senate recently voted down two related bills tabled by the ruling Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI).

Opposition political parties, “including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), have argued that the legislation aimed more at tightening the screws on Khan’s perceived political opponents than meeting the FATF’s requirements. Khan in response tweeted that the “self-serving interests of the opposition leaders” are at odds with Pakistan’s national interests.”

However, allegations abound “that Khan’s PTI seeks to gain sweeping powers to arrest anyone suspected of money laundering could be detained without trial for up to 90 days without producing any substantiating evidence in court. The term of imprisonment, they say, could be extended for a further 90 days if authorities deem fit under the proposed legislation. Khan’s government’s legislators did not consider amendments proposed by the opposition, including a call to scrap the sweeping new powers that would be given to authorities to enforce the law. They also opposed the proposed role of the National Accountability Bureau to investigate cases due to its use as a political tool in the past.”

According to a report in Asia Times, “Senator Mushahidullah Khan, a PML-N parliamentarian, said that the opposition merely asked that the government articulate clearly the parameters of the proposed FATF-related legislation, including in regards to the powers authorities would be granted to combat and eliminate money laundering. “By sweeping the opposition’s proposals under the carpet, the treasury seeks to bulldoze the legislation that is neither demanded by FATF nor aligns with the law of the land,” he said. Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) senator Farhat Ullah Babar told Asia Times that they didn’t allow the bill to pass because as drafted it would provide de facto legal cover to enforced disappearances to implement FATF recommendations. “This kind of legislation is neither enforced in any FATF’s member country nor demanded by it. The government just wanted to amass unrestrained power to deal with opponents,” he claimed.”

Earlier this year, in February 2020, “Islamabad submitted a compliance report which came under scrutiny in February during a six-day plenary of the watchdog held in Paris. In light of the Covid-19 outbreak, the FATF decided against blacklisting the country due to “its political commitment to curb terror financing and money laundering.” However, the FATF noted that Pakistan had implemented 14 recommended points but had failed to enact 13 others. At the time, the FATF urged the “swift completion of its action plan by June 2020” and called for “significant and sustainable progress especially in prosecuting and penalizing terror financing.” “If progress is not made by the next plenary scheduled for October, the FATF will take action,” a statement issued by the watchdog in February read. Pakistan was required to submit its final report last month, though it’s not clear that it did.”

Author: Shaista Sindhu

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Author: Shaista Sindhu