ISLAMABAD: A high-level delegation from Pakistan was all set to share its anti-terror plans at a 3- day meeting in Australia on Monday, to ensure that the country's name was removed from a global watchdog's list, Ministry of Finance officials said on Saturday.
The 12-member group, led by Secretary Finance Arif Ahmed Khan, is in Sydney to address questions and observations of the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on the basis of a Terror Financing Risk Assessment Report already sent to it.
“Our team will present a robust action plan to the FATF members in the meeting and we are hopeful to satisfy them on the basis of our performance against money-laundering and terror financing,” Saeed Javed, director of media at Ministry of Finance, told Arab News.
The risk assessment report which contains inputs from all relevant institutions such as the State Bank of Pakistan, Federal Board of Revenue and Federal Investigation Agency, has been prepared as per the FATF’s recommendations, he said.
“We have improved our financial systems and identified the key areas to strengthen further as per the guidelines of the FATF,” he said.
Pakistan was placed on the FATF gray-list in June last year during the global body's plenary session in Paris following a review of the monitoring report of the International Cooperation Review Group. Pakistan and the FATF negotiated a 10-point action plan to be implemented by September 2019, and a successful implementation of the action plan and its physical verification by the Asia Pacific Group will lead the watchdog to remove the South Asian nation from its gray list.
Khawaja Khalid Farooq, ex-chief of the National Counter Terrorism Authority, said that the situation -- in terms of terror financing and money laundering -- has improved a lot especially since the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government has demonstrated its commitment to move against the crime.
“Pakistan should now present its achievements not only to the FATF, but also to friendly countries such as Saudi Arabia and China to garner their support to get out of the gray list,” he told Arab News.
Farooq, however, said that there is a need to improve the country’s investigation and prosecution system with respect to terror financing and money laundering. “The government needs to amend the archaic investigation and prosecution laws to make headway on this front as well,” he said.
The FATF is an intergovernmental body based in Paris which battles money laundering, terrorist financing and other threats to the international financial system. It was set up in 1989.
Senior economist Dr. Athar Ahmed said that Pakistani authorities, in recent months, have initiated the clampdown against money-laundering at the “highest level” to comply with the recommendations of the FATF.
“The government still faces a challenge to ensure conviction in the money-laundering and terrorism financing cases, and needs to enhance the capacity of the relevant institutions for it,” he told Arab News.
Ahmed also suggested that the government should constitute a permanent task force comprising members of all relevant institutions to follow up and indict culprits. “One thing is for sure that Pakistan will have to present verifiable data and measures before the FATF to get out of the gray list,” he added.