Already, the achievements of Pakistan are being portrayed as such as to lead towards the country being taken off the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) grey list, and placed on its white list. This is since a February review by FATF had shown Pakistan to be compliant with more FATF recommendations than before, but not with enough for it to be removed from the grey list. Not only has the IMF made the continuation of its Extended Fund Facility dependent on FATF recommendations, but if Pakistan were to be blacklisted, it would mean being cut off from access to the international financial markets. Blacklisting at the next FATF plenary is unlikely, but only the Pakistani Law and Finance Ministries are claiming that Pakistan has done ennough to get Pakistan off the grey list and onto the white.
The present optimism provides an eerie reminder of that prevailing last time around, when Pakistan was thought to have done enough. Unfortunately, what happened then is likely to happen again: lack of diplomatic preparation. It may be unfortunate, but it is nevertheless true that the decision of a country to vote for or against blacklisting, or greylisting, is decided not objectively on the evidence before it, but on its relations with the country it is voting on. Pakistan’s past failures have been excused on the basis of successful and maligned Indian diplomacy, but there has been little Pakistani diplomacy to counter this, or to work positively on the other FATF members.
Pakistan has not had its path eased by the recent Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan protests, which showed how the state was ready to go easy on an organisation that wanted the expulsion of a foreign ambassador, and how it was ready to take the matter to Parliament. What is likely to be watched with great interest is how the TLP’s application to the Interior Ministry to have the ban on it lifted, is treated. If that matter is not decided by the Ministry by the time FATF decides on Pakistan, or even if it is decided to lift the ban, then FATF members are likely to take a dim view of Pakistan’s commitment against terrorist organisations.