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Understanding FATF politics against Pakistan

A quantitative analysis of non-compliance to FATF by other countries shows that Pakistan has so far achieved major targets and based on the non-compliance data, Pakistan's score is almost the same as that of the United States. This data also clearly establishes that Pakistan is more compliant than India and many other countries.

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Financial Action Task Force (FATF) working group and plenary meetings will be held in Paris from 21 February-4 March 2022. During the plenary session, the watchdog will review the progress made by the countries on its grey and blacklists and accordingly update them. The main issue with FATF’s working is politicisation by some countries, the concern that has also been raised by Pakistan. On 19 Feb 2022, Pakistan’s FO spokesman Asim Iftikhar said at a weekly media briefing “In the context of FATF, we have faithfully complied with and completed all technical requirements and hope that the outcome would be in the positive direction. There are issues of politicisation by some countries, and that remains a problem.”

Pakistan was retained on the grey list in October 2021 despite satisfactorily meeting requirements. Due to continued and prolonged retention in the grey list, Pakistan has suffered huge losses estimated to be USD 38 billion. The economic losses due to the FATF restrictions are casting corresponding detrimental effects on the life of ordinary Pakistanis. In addition to the ill effects of the Covid 19 pandemic, FATF limitations have further decelerated Pakistan’s economic progression.

Read more: FATF and its contradictory policies

Why is FATF discriminating against Pakistan?

It has been learned from different quarters that FATF’s decision to keep Islamabad on its grey list is basically political and influenced by the United States. Likewise, in July 2021 Pakistan’s Foreign Office Spokesperson Zahid Hafiz Chaudhri urged FATF to look into Indian attempts to politicise the global forum for its own interests against Pakistan as confessed by Indian External Affairs Minister Jaishankar. Pakistan’s Premier Imran Khan’s famous remarks of “absolutely not” regarding granting military ‘bases’ to the U.S. could have also negatively impacted the prospects of its deletion from the grey list.

FATF’s biased approach towards Pakistan in fact is not a single instance but can be contextualized in the larger picture and pattern of U.S.-Pakistan relations. Washington is not only the prominent financer of FATF but when Pakistan was put on the grey list back in 2018; Mr. Marshall Billingslea from U.S. Department of the Treasury was the watchdog’s president and also headed the Office of Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes.

A quantitative analysis of non-compliance to FATF by other countries shows that Pakistan has so far achieved major targets and based on the non-compliance data, Pakistan’s score is almost the same as that of the United States. This data also clearly establishes that Pakistan is more compliant than India and many other countries. Details are shown below in an info graph – prepared by Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI).

As per its charter, FATF is a technical forum assigned to dispassionately monitor money laundering and terror financing and grade the countries through a fool-proof technical mechanism rather than taking cue from political affairs and taking politically motivated decision in light of political dynamics and media framing. Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), in its extensive 2020 report has admitted that FATF is politically oriented and being used as a leverage tool by the Western powers, especially the United States. The last FATF declaration on Islamabad reveals clearly that this is not the 27-point action plan; it demands the complete submission of Pakistan, particularly about the developing situation in the region, to serve the U.S. besides India’s strategic objectives based on her deep animosity towards Pakistan.

Read more: India struggling to push Pakistan into FATF blacklist

How India is manipulating FATF against Pakistan?

India, a permanent member of FATF, has long vouched for harsh sanctions on Pakistan. New Delhi has been using the FATF forum in enforcing a tough stance against Islamabad. Indian External Affairs Minister Jaishankar admitted that India had ensured that Pakistan continues to suffer on the FATF grey list. Meanwhile, Pakistan has presented proof that India is offering arms and training to terrorists to destabilize Pakistan. The terrorist attack in Lahore on 23 June 2021 was a clear indication of the Indian nefarious designs against Pakistan. India has also been sending arms and ammunition in Afghanistan to orchestrate terrorist activities in Pakistan.

In 2020, a UN report on terrorism, titled “The 26th report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team concerning ISIS, Al-Qaeda and associated individuals and entities,” also highlighted the grim reality that there were a significant number of ISIS terrorists in two major states of India, Kerala, and Karnataka. UN report also highlighted that India has been financing and supporting terrorism, but FATF has still remained intentionally oblivious and initiated no action against India while Pakistan was retained on the grey list on the basis of a disinformation campaign and political engineering orchestrated by India.

To regain credibility, FATF must consider rejecting the complaint against Islamabad immediately, as it was initiated and lobbied by India and the U.S. to serve their political vendetta. India needs to be made accountable after having been fully exposed of its unholy pursuits by international watchdogs i.e., EU Disinfolab, which unearthed how India coordinated false, unsubstantiated, and venomous propaganda to damage the reputation of Pakistan at the international level.

Discrepancies and discrimination within the FATF structure are most likely designed to force Pakistan and others to submit on numerous issues; in the case of Pakistan on issues such as the provision of military bases to the U.S., not raising voice on the recent crisis in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IIOJK), compromises on Afghanistan, change of domestic laws, and a halt to cooperation with China. While Pakistan subscribes to the basic spirit of FATF, it certainly cannot fulfill the unending and politically motivated desires of the U.S. and India under FATF pressure. It is high time that FATF takes decisions based on merit and not be a political tool in the hands of a powerful few.

The writer is a Graduate of Defence and Diplomatic Studies, from Fatima Jinnah University. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.

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