On the face of it, it is disappointing to see that the Asia-Pacific Group (APG) has chosen to retain Pakistan on its ‘Enhanced Follow-up List’ right before the expected Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Review. But before this is seen as a defeat, it is important to remember that this report has no bearing on the upcoming FATF meeting. While the APG is a regional affiliate of FATF, the two form their own conclusions based on their internal committees.

But beyond that, Pakistan can remain confident in the fact that it has made significant strides in its efforts to contain money laundering and terrorist financial channels to counter extremist activity. Pakistan has made laws that increase scrutiny in all aspects of financial transactions; anywhere from making a large purchase to opening a bank account requires more rigorous follow-up on part of private retailers, bankers and the government. Beyond this, Pakistan’s law enforcement bodies have been empowered to take on cases of money laundering and financial discrepancies. This is monumental progress for just a few years.

It is these efforts that FATF must look to in the upcoming review process. Pakistan’s inclusion in the grey list is a gross misrepresentation. If terrorists’ financial channels were accessible here at home, the incidents and attacks would not have thinned out as they have over the years. Our security forces have taken the fight to the extremists on ground, but behind-the-scenes efforts have a large part to play in reducing the number of low-investment-high-gain incidents such as those involving car bombs or IEDs.

The narrative of Pakistan being a country that has terrorists within is at least a decade old. The FATF decision must reflect the reality as it is today. We must be taken off the grey list.