18 Oct 2019
Backed by longtime ally China, Pakistan is confident it will avert blacklisting over terrorism financing by a global watchdog on Friday but it will not be completely off the hook until it proves it is genuinely severing ties with Islamist militants, officials and analysts said.
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) last year placed Pakistan on a gray list of countries with inadequate controls over terrorism financing. The group, holding a five-day meeting, will decide on Friday whether to retain that, or blacklist it alongside Iran and North Korea.
If blacklisted, Islamabad faces financial consequences and economic setbacks at a time when its economy is facing a balance of payment crisis.
“The main challenge for Pakistan is to convince the FATF that it is taking complete and irreversible steps against terrorist financing,” Michael Kugelman, deputy director Asia Program at the Wilson Center thinktank, told Reuters by email.
Pakistan, which blames arch-rival India for lobbying to blacklist it, is relying for support on friendly countries like China, Turkey and Malaysia.
Three votes are mandatory for any country to escape the blacklisting. Two top government officials and a security personnel told Reuters that in a recent visit to Beijing, Pakistan’s civil and military leadership secured a guarantee from Chinese leaders that Islamabad would not be placed on blacklist. China is presiding over the ongoing FATF plenary in France.
“God willing, we’re trying that we get out of this gray-list as soon as possible, and I think you should believe that a comprehensive effort is being put in place,” Finance chief Abdul Hafeez Shaikh told a news conference over the weekend.
If Pakistan does avert blacklisting it will be just a temporary relief until the FATF meets again in February, 2020.
By Asif Shahzad, Reuters, 17 October 2019
Read more at Reuters
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