The Government of Pakistan on Friday expressed its “deep concern” over a statement by Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley that New Delhi wanted Pakistan to be placed on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) blacklist, saying it showed the global illicit financing watchdog was being “politicised” by the neighbouring country.
“We want Pakistan downgraded on the FATF list,” Jaitley had told reporters on Thursday, adding that the Paris-based FATF was due to meet in mid-May and India would make its request then.
The minister’s statement “re-confirms Pakistan’s longstanding concerns that this technical forum is being politicised by India against Pakistan”, Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal said in a statement.
Citing examples from the past of Indian attempts to politicise the watchdog’s proceedings, he said prior to the FATF plenary meeting in February, India had “circulated its own assessment of Pakistan’s progress and solicited immediate support for ‘blacklisting’ Pakistan”.
“On several previous occasions, calculated leaks were made to the Indian media about the proceedings of FATF, which are strictly confidential,” the statement recalled.
According to the FO, the past instances of politicisation by India were brought to the attention of the FATF president by the Pakistani finance minister.
“India’s attempts to politicise the proceedings in FATF against Pakistan call into question its credentials for co-chairing and being a member of the Asia Pacific Joint Group that reviews the progress made by Pakistan to implement the FATF Action Plan,” it said.
The FO reiterated that Pakistan remains committed to fully implementing the FATF Action Plan, which was agreed to at the “highest political level”.
“However, FATF must ensure that the process remains fair, unbiased and firmly grounded in the technical criteria of the forum.”
Citing “animosity towards Pakistan”, Islamabad had in March approached FATF president Marshall Billingslea seeking India’s removal as co-chair of the Asia-Pacific Group (APG) to ensure “that [the] FATF process is fair, unbiased and objective”.
Then finance minister Asad Umar had told Dawn at the time that friendly countries had confirmed to Pakistan that the Indian co-chair of APG was lobbying with other countries to get Pakistan blacklisted.
In June 2018, Pakistan had made a high-level political commitment to work with the FATF and APG to strengthen its anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime and to address its strategic counter-terrorism financing-related deficiencies by implementing an action plan to accomplish these objectives. The successful implementation of the action plan and its physical verification by the APG will lead the FATF to clear Pakistan out of its ‘grey list’ or move it into the ‘blacklist’ by September.
Following a three-day mutual evaluation in March, the APG — a regional affiliate of FATF — had expressed dissatisfaction over Pakistan’s inadequate compliance with global commitments and flashed contradictory situations and poor coordination among stakeholders fighting money laundering and terror financing.
The FATF can make recommendations to any of the countries that have signed a membership charter, as well as other nations, but it has no power to impose sanctions.