Sunday Jun 19, 2022
Minister for Foreign Affairs Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has termed Pakistan's successful completion of the action plans laid out by the Financial Action Task Force the "result of concerted national efforts", according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on his behalf on Sunday.
The Foreign Office, quoting FM Bilawal, said: "I welcome FATF’s unanimous acknowledgment of completion by Pakistan of its 2018 and 2021 Action Plans. I would like to commend the hard work and dedicated efforts of Pakistan’s FATF team that have led to the successful completion of all technical requirements of both FATF Action Plans."
The foreign minister said that this was "the result of concerted national efforts and complete harmony of interests by all stakeholders".
Referring to the announcement by the FATF plenary — convened in Berlin from June 14-17 — of granting an on-site visit to Pakistan, he said that it is "a welcome development".
"It reflects the remarkable progress made by Pakistan to enhance the effectiveness of its AML/CFT regime," he said, in reference to the Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism measures that the task force assesses.
FM Bilawal's statement comes after a rush by various quarters to attribute credit for the achievement, from PTI leaders to current government figures, to the military.
Former prime minister and PTI chairman Imran Khan quickly credited his government for the outcome in a series of tweets, lauding the efforts of Hammad Azhar, who in his own media briefing highlighted that Pakistan had submitted the final document for review in April when the PTI was in power.
Separately PTI leader Shireen Mazari lashed out at the coalition government for what she said was an attempt to take credit for the positive outcome.
"Let's be clear FATF removal based on concrete legal actions not on diplomatic 'skills'! Period under consideration is '21- March 22. All required tough legislation done by PTI Govt while PMLN-PPP opposed in NA! & recall who got us on to Grey List - PMLN Govt," she wrote on Twitter.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif “appreciated the performance of Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar and the members of team of the Foreign Ministry” who represented Pakistan at the meeting.
Khar emphasised in a media briefing the day after FATF's announcement that "this is going to be a cross-government effort".
"I really want to talk about this as this is an effort [by] the state of Pakistan; governments will come and go but Pakistan's consensus and efforts on this, I hope, will continue in stride," she said.
The prime minister also appreciated the “core cell” established in the General Headquarters (GHQ) for its efforts in the completion of the anti-money laundering watchdog’s item list.
"I applaud the civil and military leadership that worked with the core cell,” he said.
The Inter-Services Public Relations shared a message by the army chief, saying: "Completion of FATF AML /CFT action plans by Pakistan is a great achievement. A monumental effort paving the way for whitelisting. Core cell at GHQ which steered the national effort and civil-military team which synergised implementation of action plan made it possible, making Pakistan proud.”
The foreign minister, in his statement today, also expressed the government's commitment "to continue this positive trajectory of reforming the financial sector as part of its larger strategic objective of strengthening Pakistan’s economy".
"I am certain that this good news from FATF will restore confidence in Pakistan’s economy and act as a catalyst for sustained growth and development," he said.
FM Bilawal also reiterated Pakistan's resolve to align its AML/CFT regime with global standards.
"We look forward to the on-site visit and a successful and early culmination of the process leading to Pakistan’s exit from the grey list," the foreign minister said.
The FATF announced on Friday Pakistan has “substantially completed its two action plans” and would be removed from the grey list after it passes the on-site visit stage.
The watchdog said it will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and conduct an on-site visit at the earliest possible date.
It noted that since June 2018 — when Pakistan made a high-level political commitment to work with the FATF — Islamabad continued its political commitment to combating both terror financing and money laundering. The moves, resultantly, led to significant progress.
“In particular, Pakistan demonstrated that terror financing investigations and prosecutions target senior leaders and commanders of UN-designated terrorist groups and that there is a positive upwards trend in the number of money laundering investigations and prosecutions being pursued in Pakistan, in line with Pakistan’s risk profile. In addition, Pakistan also largely addressed its 2021 action plan ahead of the set times,” said the FATF.
FATF President Dr Marcus Pleyer, while addressing a press conference after the plenary meeting, noted that Pakistani authorities have done a significant anmount of work.
“I’m glad to say that they [Pakistan] have now largely addressed all 34 action items from their combined two action plans. Pakistan is not being removed from the grey list today. The country will be removed from the list if it successfully passes the on-site visit,” said Dr Pleyer.