New Delhi’s fresh diplomatic and strategic salvo against Islamabad came through its National Security Adviser Ajit Doval while a nervous Pakistani delegation is in Paris to convince the FATF not to elevate it to the economically debilitating "black list" from its present "grey list" status.
The FATF is holding its plenary meeting beginning today to verify steps taken by Pakistan to stop money laundering and terrorist financing.
Pakistan’s Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar is leading his country’s delegation at the talks with the FATF, where representatives from over 200 countries and organisations are participating from Monday onwards.
The outcome of the meeting is expected to be known on or after 18 October (Friday), Pakistan daily The Express Tribune reported.
Addressing India’s Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chiefs in New Delhi, Indian NSA Doval reiterated that because Pakistan has made support of terrorism a low-cost, sustainable instrument of state policy, some key functionaries of the Paris-based global anti-money laundering and anti-terror financing watchdog are reportedly unhappy with Islamabad’s progress on ending this threat emanating from its soil.
Pakistan has a long and proven history of catching and releasing terrorists operating from its soil, most of the countries have observed.
Meanwhile, the US has also reminded Pakistan that it must stop militant groups operating from its soil.
US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells recently tweeted: "We welcome news that Pakistan arrested 4 #LeT leaders. The victims of LeT's vicious attacks deserve to see these individuals prosecuted now, along with LeT leader Hafiz Saeed".
The FATF placed Pakistan on the grey list in June 2018 and was given a plan of action to complete by October 2019, or face the risk of being placed on the black list, alongside Iran and North Korea.
Last week, a Mutual Evaluation Report of the FATF’s Asia Pacific Group (APG) found many gaps in Islamabad’s efforts to arrest the flow of finances to terrorist groups and reduce the activities of UN-designated terrorist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba.
Pakistan was found to be “non-compliant" on five FATF recommendations and “partially compliant" on 25 others out of a list of 40 recommendations, according to the APG report.
There is, however, a possibility that Islamabad could be placed on a “dark grey list” as a compromise. This would mean more intense scrutiny and pressure on the country to make it abide by its commitments.
It could also mean Pakistan will find it difficult to attract foreign investments at a time when its economy is in the doldrums, despite receiving a $6 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund.