Despite active support from Pakistan’s all-weather ally China and tactical support from some countries in the West, Islamabad might not be successful in getting its name taken off from the Financial Action Task Force's (FATF) "Grey List" in February, Pakistani media cited diplomatic sources as saying on condition of anonymity.
Last week, Islamabad sent its Economic Affairs Minister Hammad Azhar to Beijing with a delegation to submit a fresh compliance report before a plenary meeting of the FATF. He reportedly used the opportunity to inform of steps being taken by his country to implement the watchdog’s recommendations.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi voiced confidence about his country being taken off the "Grey List" next month after the plenary meeting on 21-23 January. However, Pakistani media quoted diplomatic sources and analysts as saying that they foresaw a further extension of six months.
China’s Foreign Ministry on 23 January praised Islamabad's efforts for strengthening its domestic counter-terrorism financing system and urged the international community to recognise the latter’s active efforts.
"As FATF president and co-chair for Asia Pacific Joint Group, China will continue to uphold an objective, just and constructive attitude and participate in relevant discussions", Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told media in Beijing during his regular briefing.
“We hope the FATF will continue to offer constructive support and assistance to Pakistan in its continued efforts to improve the counter terrorism financing system and effectively fighting the terrorist financing", he stated further.
Last week, senior American diplomat Alice Wells, on an official visit to Pakistan, also applauded the latter for making “significant progress on legislative and administrative matters" related to the FATF action plan.
The Pakistani government has maintained that it has addressed 24 of the 27 concerns listed by the FATF, which was a vast improvement over the assessment of its compliance in October 2019, when it was mentioned that only five out of the 27 had been effectively addressed.
Pakistan currently has the support of three countries – Malaysia, Turkey, and China, but needs the votes of 12 more FATF member nations to shift from the "Grey List" to the "White List". The FATF has 39 countries as its members.
Once Islamabad exits from the "Grey List", it will be eligible for international financial aid from institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank (WB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), and the European Union (EU).
Islamabad has repeatedly been accused by India and some other FATF member states of not taking action against UN-designated terrorists. These member nations have also said that Pakistan's anti-terror laws were still out of sync with globally accepted standards.