By Islamuddin Sajid
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AA) - The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global money-laundering watchdog, on Friday announced to keep Pakistan on its watch list known as "gray list" until February next year.
Announcing the FATF's three day Plenary decisions, the president of the 36- nations organization, Marcus Pleyer, said that members agreed to maintain Pakistan’s status on FATF’s gray list.
Addressing a virtual news conference, Pleyer said Pakistan has made progress and completed 21 items out of 27 of its action plan.
"The government of Pakistan has signaled its commitment to complete the rest of its action plan but it is clear even though Pakistan has made progress, it needs to do more".
The next review will take place in February 2021, he added.
During the presser, when several Indian journalists asking questions regarding Pakistan moving to "black list" in next meeting, the FATF's president said "we must treat Pakistan equally to other countries and as long as we see that the country is progressing with the action items and we have seen progress with Pakistan".
Reacting to FATF decision, Pakistan Minister for Industries & Production Hammad Azhar said that his country has achieved impressive progress on its FATF action plan.
"21 out of 27 action items now stand cleared. Remaining 6 rated as partially complete. Within a year, we progressed from 5/27 to 21/27 completed items. FATF acknowledged that any blacklisting is off the table now," Azhar tweeted.
"Instead of current Action Plan, discussions remained focused on how Pak can be facilitated for our upcoming 2nd evaluation (MER), due mid next year. I congratulate our Federal and Provincial Teams who have worked day and night even during the pandemic to ensure this turn around," Azhar said.
Last week Pakistan foreign ministry said that the country's hopes to be taken off the gray list of the FATF as Islamabad made significant progress in implementing FATF criteria.
"The process of FATF is ongoing. Pakistan is implementing the FATF Action Plan since 2018 and we have made significant progress in this regard. Our entire AML/CFT [Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism] regime has been revamped in compliance with the Action Plan to bring it to the international standards set by FATF," Pakistan foreign ministry spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri told reporters.
Islamabad's efforts include legislative, regulatory and operational measures, he said, adding that the FATF had also acknowledged Pakistan's political commitment and progress multiple areas of the Action Plan.
Islamabad has been on the FATF's Compliance Document, also known as its Gray List, since June 2018 for alleged terrorist financing and money laundering risks after an assessment of the country's financial system and security mechanisms.
In February, the 36-nation watchdog agreed to give Pakistan until June, when it would review the country's status on the list, to comply with all 27 points listed in the action plan.
However, the meeting was postponed due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
In September, the country's parliament amended 14 laws related to its legal system to fulfill the FATF standards, while having already satisfied 13 other points.
Since 2018, Pakistan has since twice escaped being placed on the watchdog's financial crime blacklist with the support of Turkey, China and Malaysia.