The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) will conduct an onsite visit to Pakistan on Saturday to check technical pledges, according to Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar. Pakistan is “one step away” from exiting the grey list, she said.
The minister told in a press conference that the visit is a procedural necessity that will result in Pakistan being removed from the notorious grey list of the watchdog, “hopefully forever.”
Khar went on to say that the state was working closely with the body to schedule the visit at a mutually agreeable period, and that the assignment would be completed before the preliminary elections in October 2022.
Pakistan’s commitment to improved financial regulation is a matter of national agreement, according to the minister, with the strategic goal of strengthening the economy and restoring confidence.
The minister also praised the “tireless” efforts of the teams that “burned the midnight oil” to secure the completion of the FATF action plans for 2018 and 2022.
“This has been a cross-government effort,” she stated adding that the success was an effort of the state of Pakistan and not a singular entity.
She expressed optimism that Pakistan would be able to maintain its reform momentum and “offer guidance and technical assistance to other nations in the region since we are ahead of the curve.”
Pakistan will be “completely prepared” for the on-site inspection, according to Khar. She advised the media to refrain from prematurely sharing the news according to the regulatory body’s confidentiality restrictions. “In the past, this has hampered our position; we should never prejudge a situation,” she continued.
Maintaining the government’s position, Khar said it was “too early to celebrate” because Pakistan was the only country with two action plans to address financial regulation.
In answer to a question about FATF’s political bias, the minister expressed optimism about Pakistan’s progress, saying, “We have been enabled to be and regarded as responsible, and we have always maintained that FATF should remain apolitical and technical.” That is something we hope will continue.”
When challenged about international meddling in the process, Khar says, “We have underlined that the body is apolitical, but there is one country that has made it difficult in the past.”
The minister went on to say that Pakistan’s success hinged on the country’s national strategy to combat terror financing. “Our national and international agendas are in sync; we’ve learnt a lot and don’t want to fall behind,” she said.
When asked how “friendly ties” impacted Pakistan’s FATF standing, the minister said diplomatic outreach was always a policy. Khar, on the other hand, stressed that Pakistan had “kept its commitments” and “outperformed” and hence deserved aid from other countries.
In response to a query, the minister indicated that while there had previously been significant political pressure on Pakistan’s performance, diplomacy attempted to neutralise the situation.
She went on to say that India has worked tirelessly to weaken Pakistan’s position in the FATF. She did, however, imply that India’s performance would not be encouraging, given the fact that the FATF’s mutual evaluation reports were due soon.
When asked who gets credit for Pakistan’s financial performance again, Khar expressed her belief that the government was more preoccupied with who deserved credit than with the FATF conference.
“We are providing credit to everyone who seeks it, and properly so,” she said, adding that the performance was based on Pakistan’s agenda, not a particular political party’s objective.
“We have to remain mature about it, we don’t react to immaturity with immaturity,” said Khar furthering that the incumbent government would consider it a “win-win if everyone believes they have a stake in this.”