The Financial Action Task Force on Wednesday decided to keep Pakistan in the “grey list” for failing to check the flow of funds to terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, PTI reported. However, the FATF is yet to officially announce the decision.
The decision to keep Pakistan in the “grey list” was taken at the global terror financing watchdog’s third and final plenary, held online because of the coronavirus. “The FATF plenary decided continuation of Pakistan in the ‘grey list’ till its next meeting to be held in October,” an unidentified official told PTI.
In June 2018, Pakistan was put on FATF’s “grey list” and given a 27-point action plan to implement in order to be taken off the list. In October 2019, the watchdog indicted Pakistan for failing to deliver on 22 out of 27 targets. The task force also warned Pakistan that it would be blacklisted if it failed to achieve the targets by February 2020.
India, which is a member of the global organisation, has repeatedly asked Pakistan to take necessary steps to meet international standards in stopping financial crimes. Being on a blacklist of the financial watchdog has the potential to severely cripple and isolate a country financially, which could lead to a downgraded credit rating and denial of loans and developmental assistance.
FATF’s decision to keep Pakistan on the “grey list” came on the same day the United States, in a report, said that the country continues to be a safe harbour for regionally-focused terror groups. “It [Pakistan] allowed groups targeting Afghanistan, including the Afghan Taliban and affiliated HQN [Haqqani Network], as well as groups targeting India, including LeT [Lashkar-e-Taiba] and its affiliated front organizations, and Jaish-e-Mohammed to operate from its territory,” the Country Reports on Terrorism 2019 released by the US State Department said.
The US also accused Pakistan of sheltering terror masterminds. “It [Pakistan] did not take action against other known terrorists such as JeM founder and UN-designated terrorist Masood Azhar and 2008 Mumbai attack ‘project manager’ Sajid Mir, both of whom are believed to remain free in Pakistan.” Azhar is the founder of JeM, the group that claimed responsibility for the Pulwama attack in 2019 in which 40 Indian soldiers were killed.
The US State Department report added that Pakistan made some progress in meeting FATF targets and avoided being blacklisted but did not complete all “Action Plan” items in 2019.