WASHINGTON: Days after India “confessed” it lobbied to ensure that Islamabad remained on the so-called grey list of the Financial Action Task Force, the United States said Pakistan made “significant progress” on the original action plan handed over to it in June 2018.
On Sunday, Minister for External Affairs S. Jaishankar, while addressing a virtual training programme on foreign policy for Bhartiya Janata Party leaders, said it was due to Indian efforts that Pakistan was “under the lens” of the watchdog and it was “kept in the grey list”.
“We have been successful in pressurising Pakistan and the fact that Pakistan’s behaviour has changed is because of pressure put by India by various measures,” he added.
Commenting on the statement, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi observed that “manipulating” the global money laundering watchdog for “narrow political designs against Pakistan” was disgraceful but it was not “not surprising for the Narendra Modi government”. When asked to comment on Qureshi’s assertion, US Department of State spokesperson Ned Price, during a press briefing on Monday, said: “We do recognise, and we support Pakistan’s continued efforts to satisfy those FATF obligations.”
“Pakistan has made significant progress on its first action plan with 26 of 27 action items largely addressed,” he said.
In June, when FATF had decided to retain Pakistan on its grey list, the task force’s president Marcus Pleyer while acknowledging Islamabad made “substantial progress” said it needed to work towards the last item concerning the investigation and prosecution of senior leaders and commanders of groups designated by the UN as militant organisations.
Although Pleyer did not mention any names, he was referring to Masood Azhar and Hafiz Saeed — leaders of the proscribed Jaish-e-Mohammed and Jamaatud Dawah groups, respectively — who are accused, and wanted, by New Delhi on charges of terrorism.
The demand is also backed by Washington, London and Paris, although they like New Delhi do not provide any credible evidence.
Price said Washington would “encourage Pakistan to continue working with the FATF and the international community to swiftly complete the remaining action items by demonstrating that terrorism financing, investigations, and prosecutions target senior leaders and commanders of UN-designated groups”.
“We do further encourage Pakistan to expeditiously implement its new second action plan,” he said.
PAKISTAN CONSIDERS MOVING FATF:
The Foreign Office a day earlier said the government was contemplating approaching the money laundering watchdog for an “appropriate action” against Jaishankar’s claims
It observed “India’s credentials for assessing Pakistan in FATF as co-chair” of the body or “for that matter, any other country[‘s] are subject to questions, which we urge FATF to look into.”
“Pakistan has always been highlighting to the international community the politicisation of FATF and undermining of its processes by India. The recent Indian statement is just further corroboration of its continued efforts to use an important technical forum for its narrow political designs against Pakistan,” it said.
“While Pakistan has been sincerely and constructively engaged with FATF during the implementation of the Action Plan, India has left no stone unturned in casting doubts on Pakistan’s progress through disgraceful means. “Pakistan has been exposing India’s duplicitous role to the international community in the past and it will also bring this recent confession by India to the notice of FATF and broader international community.”
The statement observed Islamabad’s “immense progress in AML/CTF anti-money laundering/counter terror financing domain demonstrated through concrete, tangible and verifiable actions has been openly acknowledged by FATF”. It said Pakistan had resolved to sustain the momentum and trajectory with the support and cooperation of its international partners. “India’s delusions of putting pressure on Pakistan have always remained unfulfilled and would never see the light of day,” it said.