Pakistan has written to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international terror financing watchdog, seeking removal of India as co-chair of its Asia-Pacific Joint Group. Pakistan is placed on the FATF’s ‘grey list’ at the moment, last few months have witnessed Pakistan leaving no stone unturned to avoid being added to a list of countries deemed non-compliant with anti-money laundering and terrorist financing. The situation will hurt Pakistan’s economy if it continues to be on the grey list.
Pakistan Finance Minister Asad Umar has written to FATF president Marshall Billingslea asking him to appoint any other member country but India as co-chair of the Asia-Pacific Joint Group “to ensure that (the) FATF review process is fair, unbiased and objective”, the finance ministry has informed.
Umar wrote, “India’s animosity towards Pakistan was well known and the recent violation of Pakistan’s airspace and dropping of bombs inside Pakistani territory was another manifestation of India’s hostile attitude.”
Umar was referring to the Airstrikes carried out by the Indian Air force targeting the training camps of the terrorist group, Jaish-e-Mohammad in Balakot in Pakistan. Pakistan retaliated with sending its US-made F-16s across LOC, targeting India’s military establishment which led to a major escalation of tension between two nuclear-armed neighbours. It is to be noted that the Joint Group is a sub-body of the FATF’s International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG) of the Asia Pacific Group (APG). It is this APG which presents Pakistan’s case before the FATF. Much of irritation to Pakistan, India’s Financial Intelligence Unit’s (FIU) director general is the co-chair of the Joint Group.
The letter also highlighted India’s efforts to isolate Pakistan globally and its call for blacklisting during the ICRG meeting on February 18. Umar further added, “Indian presence among the evaluators and as Co-chair of the Joint Group would undermine the impartiality and spirit of the ‘peer review’ process. We firmly believe that India’s involvement in the ICRG process will not be fair towards Pakistan.”
In the last plenary and review meeting on February 18-22, the FATF concluded that Pakistan had made “limited progress” on the goals set for January 2019 and directed the country “to swiftly complete its action plan, particularly those with timelines of May 2019.”
The watchdog reiterated that Pakistan did “not demonstrate a proper understanding of the terror financing risks posed by Daesh (ISIS), Al Qaeda, Jamaat-ud-Dawa(Jud), Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation (FIF), Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) Haqqani network (HQN), and persons affiliated with the Taliban”.