After four years of intense monitoring by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a huge relief has finally come for Pakistan: the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog has removed Pakistan from its inglorious “grey list” of jurisdictions under increased monitoring. While announcing the decision at the conclusion of the Paris plenary of the body, FATF President Raja Kumar acknowledged that Pakistan made significant improvements to strengthen the effectiveness of its framework for combating terrorism financing. Although the announcement was largely expected, it vindicates “our determined and sustained efforts over the years,” in the words of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
Some members of the incumbent government have tried to take credit for this auspicious success by claiming that Pakistan’s re-engagement with other countries, particularly the United States, has played a positive role in the FATF’s decision, but there should be no doubt that achieving targets given though FATF Action Plans was a whole-of-nation endeavour. Multiple ministries, departments, institutions and agencies, both at the federal and provincial levels, contributed to achieving this national objective. So, one would hope that in this instance, in spite of the extreme divisiveness prevailing in the country today, the credit be accorded where it is due; notably, to all stakeholders, current and past.
This is important because this meritorious work was not done in a day, but steps were taken in a clear direction during the past four years or so with complete dedication, extreme commitment and a fervent belief of the political and military leadership that they will surmount this challenge, despite the fact that many, especially those influenced by Indian propaganda, doubted Pakistan could ever do this. And, by exiting the grey list we have proved wrong all those who thought we would fail and then they would push us to the ‘black list’. Our resolve has paid off and we must be ready to grab the opportunities that this success accrues.
What can be called a huge opportunity in our removal from the grey list and entry into the white list is that Pakistan can attract huge benefits for the country. The most prominent area in this context is the country’s faltering economy which is in pressing need of a boost. The decision has come at a time when Pakistan’s credibility on the global market has taken a pounding because of its precarious economic situation. It, nonetheless, allows the country to try to get foreign funds for tiding over its precarious financial situation. It would restore the confidence of international financial institutions in Pakistan and would help attract foreign direct investment and promote exports from the country besides improving credit ratings for the country. It will also address the liquidity issues as releases from the multilateral and other donor agencies such as IMF, ADB, World Bank and Paris Club would further enhance.
In conclusion, it can be said that this huge achievement testifies to the fact that when sustained efforts are made in the right direction, they are destined to succeed. FATF’s statement has acknowledged that Pakistan has “strengthened the effectiveness of its AML/CFT regime and addressed technical deficiencies to meet the commitments of its action plans regarding strategic deficiencies the FATF had identified in June 2018 and June 2021, the latter of which was completed in advance of the deadlines, encompassing 34 action items in total.”
No doubt, we have all the right to celebrate this huge success, yet we must also be more vigilant than ever. As the FATF has suggested that Pakistan will continue to work with its Asia/Pacific Group to further improve its AML/CFT system, it is the imperative responsibility of all concerned authorities and state institutions to fulfil this expectation so that the country does not face such a situation in future.