- Business as usual will simply no longer do
Pakistan has been placed on an enhanced monitoring list by the Asia Pacific Group (APG) on Money Laundering for at least a year. In the APG’s assessment, Pakistan’s performance has been found unsatisfactory in three-fourths of the FATF’s (Financial Action Task Force) recommendations. What is worrisome is that this is the country’s third Mutual Evaluation Report in the past ten years and still it remains non-compliant in most of the same sectors. India, baying for blood these days, through its hyperactive nationalistic media machinery attempted to spread false information that Pakistan had been blacklisted– a lie that was quickly debunked. This is all the more reason to get ourselves out of the APG’s and FATF’s crosshairs, otherwise the ‘terrorist state’ narrative will keep being pushed by our enemies. Clearly the USA is unwilling to do us any favours in this respect either. Although relations are better and a good rapport between the leaders of both countries has been established, it is unlikely the USA will provide any relief as an important voting member in the FATF.
This is not to say that Pakistan hasn’t taken some steps to fulfil the AML/CFT conditions. But it had to be forced to take those measures. Only when blacklisting had become very likely did the relevant authorities take action against proscribed groups like the LeT and JuD. For the first time Hafiz Saeed was booked under the Anti-Terrorism Act unlike in the past when he was detained under the Maintenance of Public order (MPO) law, which is relatively much easier to get bailed from. Additionally, the assets of the JuD were seized and facilities being run by its so-called charitable wing were taken over by the Punjab government. The APG’s observations therefore are clearly a case of too little too late. Our fledgling economy, starving for investment, too takes a huge blow from our placement on the grey-list for a prolonged period as it discourages already jittery and conservative investors. The APG’s findings do not bode well for the FATF plenary in October where Pakistan’s progress will be assessed. Whatever the outcome, Pakistan now has to show the will and action to effectively and satisfactorily fulfil all outstanding deliverables of the APG and the FATF.