Pakistan has been removed from the FATF’s dreaded ‘grey list’ after a period of four years after ‘largely addressing’ all ‘action plan’ items. That the PTI came to power in 2018 when Pakistan was placed on the list and is no longer running the federal government when the county is finally off the hook should not mean that it does not get the credit. There were many challenges in the way of satisfying the international terror financing watchdog that not only required a revamp of certain banking procedures, a task undertaken by the central bank, but also the passing of legislation which got the us closer to the goal of exiting the list. There was also the added pressure of regularly garnering international support amongst the member countries of the FATF to thwart continuous efforts made by India, also a member, to keep Pakistan on the grey list and downgrade it further to the black list. This required effective diplomacy on part of the Foreign Ministry and leadership of the time to keep our friends on the FATF members list on our side. Even at the latest plenary where Pakistan was moved to the ‘white list’, India had planned to table proposals derailing the move but China was able to stop this.
Now that the immediate challenge has been overcome, the relatively more difficult effort to avoid being downgraded again must begin. Pakistan would not have been in the FATF watch list if it had already set in place laws, rules and procedures aimed at combating terrorism financing and money laundering. And It was only after the FATF took notice that the relevant ministries and institutions scrambled to do what was necessary. There still exists a perception internationally, which is justifiable to an extent, that Pakistan sponsors certain terrorist activities and has a rather lax attitude over controlling the flow of the illicit money that finances it. The only way to shed this image and create a credible and clean profile of a country whose interests are aligned with other countries that want to eradicate terrorism by going after its jugular, the money, is by sticking to the FATF’s reform proposals, building upon them and further strengthening their implementation. Amongst the political and economic chaos currently facing the country that has als o dividedit to the extent that prominent political leaders cannot stand one another, there is a need to at least come together, agree with consensus and ensure that the country does not end up in the position it only just got out of.The best way for the government to achieve that is to comply with the FATF’s guidelines fully, not because it has to, but because it should.