Pakistan gets 120-day relief from terror financing tag: Top 10 developments

Pakistan has sent the advisor to PM on finance, Miftah Ismail, to attend the FATF meeting at a time when the activities of Hafiz Saeed's (pictured) JuD and the FIF have created problems for Islamabad  
Pakistan won a last-minute reprieve at the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) meeting in Paris after member states failed to reach a consensus on a US-led motion to place Pakistan on a watchlist of countries that finance terrorism, Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif has said. However, there was no official word from the global watchdog regarding the reported "reprieve".  

Islamabad has reportedly received a three-month "pause" from the FATF as far as being put on the watchlist is concerned.   

Here are the top 10 developments in the matter: 

1) 'No consensus on nomination of Pakistan': Asif in a midnight tweet thanked "friends" who helped Pakistan avoid a major international embarrassment. 

"Our efforts paid, FATF Paris 20 Feb meeting conclusion on the US-led motion to put Pakistan on watch list No consensus for nominating Pakistan, proposing three months pause and asking APG (Asia Pacific Group) for another report to be concluded in June," Asif, who is currently in Moscow, tweeted on Tuesday.

"Grateful to friends who helped," he added. 

Our efforts paid,FATF Paris 20Feb meeting conclusion on US led motion to put Pakistan on watch list

-No consensus for nominating Pakistan

-proposing 3months pause &asking APG for another report to b considered in June الحمداللہ

Grateful to friends who helped

— Khawaja M. Asif (@KhawajaMAsif) February 20, 2018

2) China, Russia, Turkey saved Pakistan: Pakistani daily The Express Tribune reported that while concrete details were not available, Pakistani Foreign Office sources suggested that China, Turkey, and Russia, all of them members of FATF, opposed the motion against Pakistan

By now, there might not be any surprise over Beijing shielding Islamabad from the fallout of its support for proscribed terrorist organisations -- China has protected Masood Azhar, the leader of Pakistan-based terrorist organisation Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), by preventing the Security Council from sanctioning him as an international terrorist. However, if reports of Russia's involvement are accurate, the development could raise eyebrows in New Delhi, given its close defence ties and strategic partnership with Moscow.

Described as a "long-standing and time-tested partner" by India, Russia was reportedly among the countries that were not in agreement with the proposal to place Pakistan back on the terror financing watchlist. With the resultant failure in arriving at a consensus, the watchdog did not table the motion, which was jointly moved by the US and the United Kingdom (UK) against Pakistan, for voting in its plenary session. 

3) Germany, France backed US motion: The reports said that Germany and France backed the US motion. According to a Reuters report, Pakistan's de facto finance minister, Miftah Ismail, had said the US and Britain had put forward the motion several weeks ago. Ismail added that they later persuaded France and Germany to co-sponsor it. 

4) Being placed on the watchlist would have chilled trade and investment: Being placed on the FATF watchlist carries no direct legal implication but brings extra scrutiny from regulators and financial institutions. That could have chilled trade and investment and increased transaction costs, according to experts.

Any decision to put Pakistan back on the list would have translated into a "major setback for Islamabad's efforts to improve its image", according to Dawn.

FATF, which maintains grey and black lists for identifying countries that have weak measures to counter and combat money laundering and terror financing, does not have the authority or power to impose sanctions on a country found non-compliant with the required standards. But a country's listing can have an impact on its international transactions, as it would come under greater scrutiny.  

Analysts had feared that punitive action could be taken against Pakistan if it was found to be complicit in terror financing. Such an action would have jack up the cost of doing international and domestic business. 

5) FATF meets to protect global financial system's integrity: The FATF is holding a six-day-long meeting to discuss issues "to protect the integrity of the global financial system and contribute to safety and security". The meetings involve over 700 delegates from the 203 jurisdictions of the FATF Global Network, as well as the UN, IMF, World Bank and other partners.

The plenary meetings will take place from February 21 to 23 and will focus on counter-terrorism financing and proliferation financing. 

6) Pak scrambled to avoid embarrassment: Pakistan had been scrambling in recent months to avert being added to the grey list of countries deemed non-compliant with terrorist financing regulations by the FATF.

7) US threatens to get tough with Pak: The United States has been threatening to get tough with Islamabad over its alleged ties with Islamist militants, and last month President Donald Trump's administration suspended aid worth about $2 billion. 

8) Pak sent PM's advisor to FATF meet: Pakistan has sent Advisor to Prime Minister on Finance Dr Miftah Ismail to attend the FATF meeting at a time when the activities of Hafiz Saeed's Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and the Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF) have created problems for the Pakistan government, media reports said.  

9) 'India's hand' suspected behind move: Pakistan suspects India's hand behind the US-sponsored resolution as Ismail recently lamented that the FATF was being used for political purposes, according to media reports. 

10) FATF's role and functions: The FATF was established in 1989 to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and checking other related threats to the international financial system.

It has developed a series of recommendations that are recognised as the international standard for combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism.  

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