Pakistan Retained on FATF Grey List as ‘More Action Needed’ Against Terror Groups; Turkey New Addition
Pakistan will remain on the ‘grey list’ as it needs to further demonstrate terror financing investigation, and prosecution of leaders and commanders of UN-designated terrorist groups and their associates, said Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which concluded its three-day October plenary on Thursday.
Pakistan continues to remain on “increased monitoring list" (grey list), FATF president Marcus Pleyer said at a virtual press conference from Paris.
“Pakistan has taken a number of important steps, but needs to further demonstrate that investigations and prosecutions are being pursued against the senior leadership of UN-designated terror groups," said the president of the global body against money laundering and terror financing.
Not as severe as black listing, inclusion in the ‘grey list’ shows that a country is working to remove flagged deficiencies. Pleyer said that Pakistan has two concurrent action plans, actions against UN-designated terror groups and anti-money laundering, along with 34 action plan items.
“Its government has a 34-point action plan, of which 30 items have been addressed. Good progress found, but shortcomings listed,” the FATF said.
Besides Pakistan, Turkey made an entry to the ‘grey list’ with the FATF mentioning the country’s terror financing for Al Qaeda. Jordan and Mali have also been added to the ‘grey list’, with the countries agreeing to an action plan with the FATF. Meanwhile, Botswana and Mauritius were taken off the list.
The FATF had retained Pakistan in the grey list at its last virtual plenary meeting held in June, saying that the country had failed to adequately investigate and take action against leaders of UN-designated terrorist groups. The global terror financing watchdog had asked Pakistan to execute a new action plan to deal with money laundering and terror financing.
FATF’s October plenary took place under the German Presidency of Dr Marcus Pleyer, with delegates representing 205 members of the global network and observer organisations, including the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations, taking part in the hybrid meeting.
Refuting allegations of political interference in the FATF listing process, Pleyer said the organisation works on the basis of “technical arguments". One of the outstanding items from the 2018 action plan focusing on terror financing is that Pakistan needs to demonstrate that terrorist financing investigations and prosecutions are targeting senior leaders and commanders of UN-designated terrorist groups, Pleyer said.
Then there is this 2021 action plan, which is focusing more on anti-money laundering issues, he said. “Its most recent action plan from June this year which largely focused on money laundering deficiencies was issued after FATF regional partner the Asian Pacific Group identified a number of serious issues," Pleyer said.
The UN-designated terrorists based in Pakistan include Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Azhar, Lashker-e-Taiba (LeT) founder Saeed and its ‘operational commander’ Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi. Azhar, Saeed and Lakhvi are the most wanted terrorists in India for their involvement in numerous terrorist acts, including the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks and bombing of a CRPF bus at Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir in 2019.