Pakistan avoids spot on global terrorism-financing watch list

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif. (Vasily Maximov/AFP)
Updated 21 February 2018
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Pakistan avoids spot on global terrorism-financing watch list

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will not be placed on a global terrorism-financing watch list, foreign minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif revealed in a tweet.
During a meeting in Paris, money-laundering watchdog the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) failed to reach agreement on a motion co-sponsored by the United States
“Our efforts paid, no consensus for nominating Pakistan (for the grey list),” Asif posted on Twitter.
However, the decision might only be temporary. He added that the FATF proposed a three month pause, “asking APG (Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering) for another report to be considered in June.”
The APG is an inter-governmental organization, consisting of 41 member jurisdictions including Pakistan, focused on ensuring that its members effectively implement the international standards against money laundering, terrorist financing and proliferation financing related to weapons of mass destruction.
Asif also thanked the countries that had supported Pakistan. “Grateful to friends who helped,” he tweeted.
He is currently in Moscow at the invitation of his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, and the pair have discussed Islamabad’s concerns about the FATF motion, in an attempt to secure Russian support in opposing it.
The draft resolution to place Pakistan on the FATF list was led by the US, with the support of the UK, France and Germany. US-Pakistani relations hit a new low last year when Washington, unveiled its new strategy for Afghanistan, and accused Islamabad of harboring and supporting terrorists.
The day before Asif’s tweet, interior minister Ahsan Iqbal, speaking in Pakistan’s National Assembly, described the FATF motion as “a tactic by the United States to pressure Pakistan.”
He added: “If Pakistan is placed on the watch-list, this will affect our budget and subsequently our military operations against extremists and militants.”
Last year, FATF’s International Cooperation Review Group resolved to scrutinize Pakistan’s perceived support of proscribed groups operating on its soil, and requested a report on the country’s efforts to combat the financing of terrorism.
Pakistan sent a delegation to Paris to defend the country in the face of the motion. It was led by Syed Mansoor Shah, director-general of the financial monitoring unit of State Bank of Pakistan, and included representatives from the Foreign and Interior ministries.
Dr. Miftah Ismail, adviser to the prime minister on finance, also joined the delegation in Paris on February 20. The previous week, he visited Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium in an attempt to win support in opposing the motion.
FATF is an intergovernmental body that was established in July 1989 during a Group of Seven (G7) summit in Paris. Its objectives are to set standards and promote the effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.
It currently comprises 35 members and two regional organizations, representing most major financial centers around the globe, along with observer countries, organizations and associate members.
Pakistan was on the FATF watch list from 2012 until 2015. It is desperate to avoid the financial restrictions that a return to the list would bring, as it tries to keep its economy growing with help of international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and Asian Development Bank.


Macron must unify France as unrest is hurting economy: Le Maire

Updated 2 min 23 sec ago
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Macron must unify France as unrest is hurting economy: Le Maire

PARIS: President Emmanuel Macron needs to unify a country divided by the forces of globalization in a national addresses on Monday and end anti-government protests that will cut economic growth by about 0.1 percentage points, France’s finance minister said.
Protesters rioted in Paris and cities across France on Saturday in a fourth weekend of unrest that first erupted over high living costs but has morphed into a broader anti-Macron rebellion.
“Our country is deeply divided, between those who see that globalization has benefited them and others who can’t make ends meet, who say ... globalization is not an opportunity but a threat,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told RTL.
“It is the president’s role to unify the country.”
Le Maire would not be drawn on a figure for annual economic growth in 2018 but said the wave of unrest was hurting France’s image among foreign investors and would knock 0.1 percentage points off output in the final quarter.
Macron will make a televised address at 20:00 local Paris time (1900 GMT) as he seeks to placate “yellow vest” protesters, whose revolt poses the most formidable challenge yet to the 40-year-old leader’s 18-month presidency.
Le Maire reiterated his desire to accelerate tax cuts but suggested he was not in favor of reinstating a tax on wealth — known as the ‘ISF’ — that Macron narrowed when he came into office, and which earned him the tag ‘president of the rich.
“Does the ISF help reduce poverty, reduce our debts, reduce public spending? No. If you want to hunt for money, go knocking on the doors of digital tech companies,” Le Maire said.
Le Maire said last Thursday that France would tax digital giants at a national level from 2019 if European Union states could not reach an agreement on a tax on digital revenues for the bloc.
“It is time they paid a fair level of tax,” he told RTL on Monday.