The US has said it recognises and supports Pakistan’s continued efforts to meet the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) requirements, and acknowledges that the latter has made “significant progress” on the international watchdog’s original action plan agreed in June 2018.
US State Department spokesperson Ned Price made these remarks during a press briefing on Monday while answering a question about Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood accusing India of politicising the FATF to ensure that Pakistan remained on the watchdog’s increased monitoring list, also known as the grey list.
“Well, you’re referring to Pakistan’s obligations under the Financial Action Task Force, and we do recognise, and we support Pakistan’s continued efforts to satisfy those obligations. Pakistan has made significant progress on its first action plan with 26 of 27 action items largely addressed,” said Price.
He added that the US would “encourage Pakistan to continue working with the FATF and the international community to swiftly complete the remaining action item[s] by demonstrating that terrorism financing, investigations, and prosecutions target senior leaders and commanders of UN-designated groups.”
“We do further encourage Pakistan to expeditiously implement its new second action plan,” he said.
The statement came a day after Hindustan Times quoted India’s Minister for External Affairs S Jaishankar as saying that the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) government led by Narendra Modi had ensured that Pakistan remained on the FATF’s grey list.
“Due to us, Pakistan is under the lens of FATF and it was kept in the grey list,” Jaishankar had said while addressing a virtual training programme on foreign policy for BJP leaders, according to the Hindustan Times.
“We have been successful in pressurising Pakistan and the fact that Pakistan’s behaviour has changed is because of pressure put by India by various measures,” the report further quoted him as saying.
Reacting to these remarks, Pakistan’s Foreign Office (FO) issued a statement on Monday, saying that the Indian foreign minister’s statement had vindicated Pakistan’s longstanding stance on “India’s negative role” in the global financial watchdog.
The FO said the Indian foreign minister’s statement had exposed India’s “true colours” and “duplicitous” role.
“Pakistan has always been highlighting to the international community the politicisation of FATF and undermining of its processes by India. The recent Indian statement is just further corroboration of its continued efforts to use an important technical forum for its narrow political designs against Pakistan.
“While Pakistan has been sincerely and constructively engaged with FATF during the implementation of the action plan, India has left no stone unturned in casting doubts on Pakistan’s progress through disgraceful means,” the statement by the FO added.
The FATF had announced on June 25 that Pakistan would continue to remain on the watchdog’s increased monitoring list till it addressed the single remaining item on the original action plan agreed to in June 2018 as well as all items on a parallel action plan handed out by the watchdog’s regional partner — the Asia Pacific Group — in 2019.
The addition of a new action plan alongside the original one, which Pakistan had completed except for one agenda item, had raised eyebrows among analysts and observers, who had said the goalpost was being shifted for Pakistan despite its high level of compliance.
Last month, Foreign Minister Qureshi had said that India wanted to use the FATF forum for “political purposes” but should not be allowed to do so.
Similarly, Federal Energy Hammad Azhar had also hit out at India, saying its face had been “badly unveiled” and it had “overplayed its hand”, because of which everyone now knew that it had one purpose – to politicise the FATF.
“I think India’s thoughts and politicisation efforts there [in the forum] are losing weight with time because they have become so visible,” he had said.
Earlier this year, the FO had criticised India for linking a conviction of banned Lashkar-e-Taiba leader Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi with the FATF, terming it “yet another Indian attempt to politicise FATF and use its processes against Pakistan”.
The FATF had formally placed Pakistan on its grey list in June 2018 due to strategic deficiencies in its anti-money laundering/counter-terror financing regime after a push from India supported by the US, the UK and some European countries.