ISLAMABAD: The foreign office ruled out chances of Pakistan being blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force while restating the country would remain on the inter-governmental body’s ‘grey list’.
The formal announcement, however, will be made by the FATF at the conclusion of their week-long deliberations in Paris on Friday (today) where finance minister Shamshad Akhter is representing the country’s case, said FO spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal at the weekly briefing.
“Here, let me take a moment to clarify many misperceptions regarding Pakistan’s listing in FATF, despite the fact that I categorically explained the official position on FATF to you all in February this year, which is also available on our website.”
The decision to place Pakistan on the international body’s grey list was taken earlier in February, after the country submitted its plan to chalk out money laundering, corruption and terror financing thus avoiding an immediate inclusion into the blacklist.
“Therefore, what is being reported in media recently is nothing new,” he added.
The 26-point action plan presented by Pakistan to the 37 nation FATF plenary will have to be implemented within the next 15 months in order to avoid being blacklisted, formally known as FATF’s public statement.
It was also agreed in February that an action plan would be negotiated between Pakistan and FATF members by June. This has been done. “Pakistan will work towards effective implementation of the Action Plan while staying in the grey list,” Faisal said.
Faisal maintained that a similar situation took place in 2011 when Pakistan was included in the grey list and was taken out in 2015 after it successfully implemented the action plan. While according to the Press Trust of India, official sources in the Foreign Office said that being placed officially on the ‘grey list’ was not a surprise for Pakistan. “It is a political decision and nothing to do with the performance of Pakistan against terrorism,” they said, claiming that Pakistan will stay on the list for a year or so and will eventually be removed, “as has happened in the past”.
Pakistan submitted a detailed plan of action before the FATF, outlining a series of steps the country intends to undertake in the last year-and-a-half to curb terror financing as well as taking action against terrorist groups. After its placement on the ‘grey list’, the country will be directly scrutinised by the financial watchdog until it is satisfied by the measures taken to curb terror financing and money laundering. Sources explained that Pakistan will have to deliver on the first goal by January next year and complete all the 26 actions by September 2019.
Pakistan urges EU to support UN Kashmir report
Reacting to the European Union’s criticism against Pakistan at the Human Rights Council on the shrinking space of media and civil society, the spokesperson said it was deeply regrettable that the EU, as a flag-bearer of human rights, had chosen to ignore the plight of Kashmiri civilians who continue to be subjected to killings, torture, rape, and the barbaric unprecedented use of pellet guns and human shield.
“We call upon the EU and its member states to lend its support to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ recommendation to establish an International Commission of Inquiry for the gross and systematic violations of human rights in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir as well as the full implementation of UN Security Council resolutions on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute,” the spokesperson stressed.
On the Afghan situation, the spokesperson said Pakistan welcomed the announcement of ceasefire by President Ghani. Upholding of ceasefire for three days by both sides had given renewed hope for a peace process in Afghanistan. Afghan Government’s announcement of the extension of the ceasefire was a step in the right direction.
“We believe that the ceasefire can be a major confidence-building measure. We urge all sides to engage in a peace process to bring lasting in Afghanistan,” Faisal said. On Abdullah Abdullah’s statement, he remarked Pakistan firmly believes that the most viable solution to the Afghan conflict lies in an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.
“Pakistan, therefore, supports all peace efforts geared towards bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan. Pakistan will extend all support for the Afghan peace process,” he added.
Meanwhile, commenting on Noor Wali Mehsud’s nomination as new TTP chief, Faisal said, “We believe that the killing of terrorist Mullah Fazlullah, the mastermind of the APS terrorist attack and his continued role in directing terrorism against Pakistan is a significant development in the fight against terrorism.”
“The news of his death has been received in Pakistan with relief, especially for the families whose loved ones were victims of TTP’s terrorist attacks including the APS massacre. Pakistani leadership believes that a cooperative and coordinated approach is the best response to the menace of terrorism.”
He maintained that TTP and its affiliates were involved in terrorist acts against Pakistan and its people. “We will use all our resources to bring all terrorists to justice notwithstanding who leads this terrorist group.”
Regarding Gen Nicholson’s statement, he said Pakistan supported all peace efforts in Afghanistan. “In our view, a peaceful and stable Afghanistan is in the best interest of Pakistan and the region. Our efforts for peace in Afghanistan are guided by our national interest and not by the desires of any external actor.”