Islamabad: Pakistan has accelerated both diplomatic and administrative efforts in a bit to exit the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global illicit financing watchdog.

Pakistani officials have also urged the United States, a key FATF member, to help Islamabad get it off the list at the FATF’s Beijing meeting. “This meeting is very important as it leads to a plenary meeting in Paris in April where the world body will decide whether Pakistan remains on the list or is taken off,” Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told media.

He hoped the US would support Pakistan’s efforts, recalling that US President Donald Trump in his meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan, also said that he wanted to see Pakistan off the FATF grey list.

Qureshi has recently concluded his three-day US visit where he met key US lawmakers and officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He also asked the US to review its travel advisories for Pakistan and encourage investments to strengthen bilateral ties.

US lauds progress made to meet FATF requirements

Following Qureshi’s visit, key US diplomat for South Asian affairs, Alice Wells, arrived in Islamabad on January 19 to hold high-level talks. In Islamabad, US diplomat Alice Wells commended the progress made by Pakistan to curb terror financing and money laundering to meet FATF requirements. “It is heartening to see that Pakistan government has made significant progress on these matters and that too in a short time,” she said during a meeting with Pakistan’s Interior Minister retired Brig Ijaz Shah.

The US delegation was briefed on the legislative and administrative steps taken by Pakistan government to overcome inadequacies in its financial system. Several issues, including Pak-US ties, the Afghan peace process, FATF, regional tensions and Kashmir, came under discussion during her meetings with top officials.

Pakistani delegation in Beijing for crucial talks with FATF

The Pakistani delegation, headed by Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar, has reached Beijing, to hold talks with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Working Group, according to media reports. The delegation comprises representatives of the Foreign Ministry, Interior Ministry, State Bank of Pakistan, National Counter Terrorism Authority, Customs, and Financial Monitoring Unit.

During the three-day talks (Jan. 21-23), Minister Hammad Azhar and his team would defend country’s compliance on 22 action points given by FATF to assess the country’s progress related to combating money laundering and terror financing. At the Beijing meeting, Pakistan is expected to provide details of the cases registered against the banned outfits, sentences given to members of proscribed organisations, steps taken against money laundering, investigation into over 500 cases of transfer of funds to terror groups and elimination of terror finance system.

Pakistan was placed on the FATF’s grey list in June 2018 for 15 months. In October 2019, the FATF announced that it would retain Pakistan on its “grey list” for four months, asking Pakistan to address all issues identified in the action plan by February 2020. Failure to do so could lead to sanctions on the country’s banking system.