Prime Minister Imran Khan has always believed that just as he helped Pakistan win the cricket world cup, he will be able to duck all the bouncers thrown his way and emerge victorious. Declaring anyone who opposes him as a traitor or accusing them of sedition may work in Pakistani politics, a similar policy will not work when it comes to dealing with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
Since 2018, when Pakistan was placed for the third time on the grey list of the international body that monitors money laundering and terrorist financing, Imran’s government has been unable to get off that list and all Khan has tried is to make sure the country is not placed on the black list.
Since Pakistan has no intention of fulfilling any of conditions imposed on Pakistan, or of acting against any of the UN designated terror groups, all the government does is white washing.
First, one month ago the government tried to use FATF to pass the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) and Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) Amendment. Any sensible Prime Minister would have taken the leaders of various Opposition parties into confidence in a one-to-one meeting, and got an action plan endorsed at an all-party consultative. Both the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), and the Pakistan Muslim League -Nawaz (PML-N) are fully aware of the hanging FATF sword.
The move failed as the Opposition parties argued the act would amount to giving permission to the investigating officers to “intrude privacy of a citizen.” The amendment gives to investigation officer the powers AMLA confers for probing money laundering and offences related to financing terrorism. The police will get to “use techniques including but not limited to undercover operations, intercepting communications, assessing computer systems, and controlled delivery as provided in the rules for investigation of offences of money laundering, associated predicate offences.”
Instead of reaching out to the critics, Prime Minister Imran Khan launched a blitzkrieg against the PPP and PML-N leaders, particularly ailing former President Asif Ali Zardari and the hospitalised former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
“These corrupt leaders want a bail out from me in return for supporting FATF legislation. I will not yield to their blackmail”, he has been thundering hopping around the country. And has let loose sleuths of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on them. NAB is a creation of discredited dictator Pervez Musharraf, who is also facing music; he is living in Dubai in exile.
Second, a few weeks before FATF meeting, there was a pretense of acting against jihadi groups. This time this included freezing 964 properties of proscribed outfits Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) under the United Nations Security Council (Freezing and Seizure) Order, 2019. Of them, 907 properties belonged to JuD and 57 to JeM.
Finally, if that does not work, Imran is hoping China, Malaysia and Turkey will support Pakistan at the FATF meeting and keep it off the blacklist.