Double standards

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an inter-governmental body, was founded by the Group of Seven (G7), a bunch of global elite, after the fall of the Soviet Union to pursue the dream of being powerful forever in order to dictate the world at large.

Within its scope are efforts to combat money-laundering, terrorism financing and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Initially, it was believed to be a neutral body, but later it was exposed as biased because the handpicked developed countries changed its course. Pakistan has had its interactions with the FATF over the years and is currently placed on the ‘grey list’ apparently for reasons that run deeper than what they look like on the surface.

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In what is known as FinCEN files scandal, leaked documents involving transactions worth about $2 trillion have already shown how some of the world’s biggest banks allowed criminals to move ill-gotten money around the world.

Leading Western banks have been some of the main facilitators of money-laundering. Besides, according to the FinCEN files, London is the hub of major money-laundering activities. It was reported to have links with about 3,000 such companies, and the recently released Pandora Papers prove the point.

The global institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation (WTO), maintain close liaison with handpicked developed countries that house the world’s largest multi-national corporations under the patronage of international investors.

Therefore, the global establishment puts pressure on the developing countries to adopt its recommended policies in return for aid or loans, hence controlling their respective national policies.

If a domestic policy of a developing country is against their interests, they jointly lobby and exert pressure to have it changed. The recent tough talks with the IMF point to the pressure and influence of the global institutions.

Besides, the compliance of Pakistan with the FATF agenda has been appreciated by Marcus Pleyer, the president of the watchdog, who said Pakistan had fulfilled 95 per cent of the requirements. By his own remarks, Pakistan was given one of the most challenging plans. Despite all the efforts, Pakistan could not get itself off the grey list.

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Similarly, the biggest ‘grey’ area in FATF is the listing of countries. If someone looks at the criteria percentage given to various countries, it gets stranger. For example, the percentage of partially compliant and non-compliant status given to Pakistan is 20pc, and it has been placed on the grey list, while Lithuania and South Korea also scored 20pc, but found a place on the ‘white list’. The stronghold of the core countries in FATF creates inequality among those on the periphery.

Ironically, the CIA supplied weapons and ammunition to the Afghan Mujahideen against the Soviets, and the United States declared them freedom-fighters. Later, the same group which transformed into the Taliban was declared terrorists because of shifting American interests in the region.

Rationally speaking, if the FATF is really serious about dirty money being used in terror financing, it should ask the US why the CIA funded and weaponised the Mujahideen. When Pakistan presented a dossier against India in the United Nations, accusing it of stoking terrorism in Pakistan, India was not held accountable. The Brussels-based European Union Disinfo Lab exposed 750 fake websites of the Indian government, operating for 15 years to discredit and malign Pakistan. No action was taken.

Besides, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is one of the main FATF agenda items. According to the South Asia Strategic Stability Institute (SASSI), 18 incidents of nuclear material theft were reported in India from 1944 to 2021, involving over 200kg of nuclear material. But FATF neither asked any question over the uranium theft in India, nor did it hold it accountable. All these examples reinforce the perception that FATF is merely a political tool used selectively against countries following national policies that hamper the political and strategic objectives of the global elite.

Solangi Anwar

Ranipur

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