Pakistan says it is committed to fighting money laundering

Pakistan’s government says it is focused on implementing a slew of new anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism financing laws.

The government’s comments come after the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an intergovernmental body, last week kept Pakistan on a watchlist of countries which do not meet the organisation’s criteria to restrict the funding of “terror” groups.

The FATF extended its evaluation of the country as a “jurisdiction with strategic deficiencies”, keeping it on its so-called “grey list”.

“Pakistan has been able to demonstrate tangible, effective and sustained progress towards the earliest completion of its [FATF] action plan,” Lubna Farooq Malik, director-general of the government’s Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) which is overseeing the response to the FATF, told Al Jazeera in a statement.

“Since February 2020 […], Pakistan has focused on sustainability and irreversibility of its efforts in the implementation of the action plan by completely revamping its [anti-money laundering and counterterrorism financing] legal framework.

“As a result, Pakistan has successfully put in place an effective legal framework complemented by an equally robust institutional mechanism to address [those] concerns,” Malik said on Monday.

On Sunday, the cabinet minister working on the response to the FATF also said the country was shifting its focus from setting up laws and processes to now implementing them.

“These laws reflect clearance of back log of last 10 years,” said Hammad Azhar on Twitter. “The [government of Pakistan is] now focusing on implementation of these laws for effectiveness [and] evaluation planned ahead.”

The FATF has been closely evaluating Pakistan’s progress on combatting money laundering and terrorism financing since 2018, when it reclassified the country as being at risk of blacklisting for non-compliance with international recommendations.

Isolating Pakistan

Blacklisting by the FATF would result in Pakistan being isolated in certain ways from the international banking system, raising the costs of doing business domestically and with the external sector.

On Friday, FATF and its 37 member states ruled to extend Pakistan’s period of evaluation as it works on a 27-point action plan issued by the body to bring the country’s financial regulations and investigating agencies in line with the organisation’s requirements.

“The FATF takes note of the significant progress made on a number of action plan items,” the body said in a statement released at the conclusion of its plenary session.

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