Pakistan ready for on-site visit of FATF team

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has expressed its readiness to receive the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) assessment team for completing the procedural requirements for its exit from the international watchdog’s ‘grey list’ of countries under enhanced monitoring.

“We are working closely with the FATF to arrange the on-site visit at mutually convenient dates with a view to conclude the entire process at the earliest and before the next FATF plenary in October 2022,” said Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar at a press conference on Saturday after returning from Berlin, where she led the delegation at the FATF plenary meeting.

The FATF, after its four-day plenary meeting, had acknowledged on Friday that Pakistan had fully complied with the 2018 and 2021 action plans on anti-money laundering and combating terror financing. However, Pakistan’s exit from the grey list was linked to the outcome of an on-site visit by a technical team for the verification of the implemented reforms.

“I am sure that we will be fully prepared during the on-site visit and will exit the grey list at the earliest. Insha Allah!,” Ms Khar said. FATF’s acknowledgement of the progress made by Pakistan meant that the country was just “a step away from exiting” the grey list, she added.

State minister calls visit ‘beginning of the end-process’ that will culminate in country’s exit from grey list

The on-site visit, she explained, was “a procedural requirement” that marks the “beginning of the end-process” culminating in exit from the grey list.

The minister said Pakistan submitted 11 reports on the 2018 action plan and three on the 2021 action plan. “The 2018 Action Plan has been closed with no pendency of action on part of Pakistan,” she said, adding that the entire seven-point 2021 action plan had been completed a year ahead of the prescribed timelines.

While recalling the country’s high-level political commitment, national consensus, and institutional harmony and synergy that enabled the attainment of the milestone, she said: “This swift pace and progress is indicative of the comprehensive reforms and actions that have been carried out by Pakistan in the AML/CFT domain and sustained momentum of our efforts.”

“I want to take this opportunity to stress once again that Pakistan’s cooperation with the FATF and the international community is grounded in our strategic objective of strengthening our economy and further improve its integration with the international financial system,” Ms Khar said.

Pakistan’s exit would restore investors’ confidence and would improve investment climate that would ultimately boost the economy, she said.

On the issue of who’s to be credited with this success, she said it was result of “a whole of country response” involving multiple ministries, departments and agencies, at all levels of the government. She also thanked “international partners and friends” for their support during the process.

Looking confident that the progress made by Pakistan would be sustainable, she said: “Pakistan is in a position that not only can sustain its trajectory of reforms well into the future, but can also provide guidance and technical support to other countries in this area.”

Replying to a question, she said all the political parties, the present and the previous governments deserved credit for making progress over the objective, as it was a national cause and a win-win situation for Pakistan, adds APP.

The minister said taking all drastic measures with national consensus were in Pakistan’s interests to show to the world that it was a responsible country. While appreciating the tireless efforts of all the teams to achieve the objective, she said it was indeed a whole of country response. “It also demonstrates that when we work together with a sense of purpose, we can achieve remarkable things,” she added.

She also expressed gratitude to the friendly countries and international partners for their understanding, support and cooperation.

Asked about boycott of the FATF legislation by the opposition parties during the PTI’s tenure, she maintained that they had adopted the legislation in the parliamentary committees. They only opposed the legislation process in the parliament, because the previous ruling party was bulldozing the set procedures, she added.

Responding to a question regarding India’s attempts to leak FATF proceedings, she said the body had been very strict to the confidentiality of its reports.

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