- Blacklisting would be a disaster
Pakistan is up for review by the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) in October with preliminary meetings reportedly starting at the beginning of next month. If the country is found to be still noncompliant on 13 of the 27 major action points that remained unfulfilled in the previous review, it will most likely be placed on the dreaded blacklist by the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog. Owing to the Coronavirus the meeting that was scheduled to be held in China in June got postponed, providing much needed time to prepare a presentable case for the FATF. Thankfully, with the pandemic having died down significantly in the country, FATF-specific legislation has been passed in the past few weeks while more militant organisations have been banned. The government has prepared eight bills to be passed in both the lower and upper houses to move Pakistan into the whitelist from grey list where it has been since 2018. Of these, so far, three have been passed with opposition parties also reluctantly supporting the legislation and its purpose. The list of outlawed organisations that has been maintained since 2001 and contains 77 names, has been expanding since 2013 with the very significant addition of Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) and Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF) was made last year under the PTI government. For decades such groups had been allowed to freely operate and even contest general elections while there was enough evidence to outrightly ban them and cease their assets, which is what has finally happened owing to FATF pressure.
Banned organisations have a tendency to re-emerge under different names, making them difficult to track. Law enforcement authorities must therefore remain vigilant and monitor blacklisted outfits to restrict any such activity. FATF-specific legislation will remain meaningless unless the new laws are implemented by the relevant institutions and authorities. Going forward, if Pakistan is able to avoid being blacklisted by presenting a reasonably good case in front of the FATF, the momentum to stop money laundering and terror financing that has so far been generated out of necessity should not be reduced.