FATF grey-listing? Shocking

Pakistan has been put on the grey-list by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), following last week’s meeting in Paris, despite what are being touted as ‘best diplomatic efforts’.

This development is particularly shocking considering that this is precisely the watch-list that Pakistan spent the years 2012-2015 in, and also the fact that not much has changed since then. What makes the verdict even more jolting is the fact that the grey-list was the bare minimum that the FATF was going to give Pakistan, as it had announced in the February meeting.

Hence, one wonders what those ‘best diplomatic efforts’ were to prevent Pakistan from being grey-listed. Were they intended to perhaps ensure that Pakistan goes one better and hogs the black list, alongside Iran and North Korea? For, expecting Pakistan to be in the white one is to kid, among the rest of the world, ourselves.

Maybe it’s the last-ditch facades that are being touted as actual efforts. President issuing Anti-Terrorism Ordinance 2018 on the brink of the February meeting – or the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan’s (SECP) Anti Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Regulations, 2018 – or the National Security Committee’s (NSC) meeting before this month’s meet isn’t even worth calling a face-saving effort.

So maybe the ‘best efforts’, again, have been dedicated to get Pakistan on another list. Evidence for this could be that even though the Anti-Terrorism Ordinance 2018 slashed a ban on UN listed terror groups in Pakistan, many of them are directly or indirectly contesting the elections this month.

For instance, Hafiz Saeed – the man who was the topic of discussion last week, and in February, as he often is at such meetings – still has a functioning gamut of organisations in Pakistan, with next to nothing being done to monitor the transactions of the ‘charities’ and other groups that function under his banner, or as affiliates.

And while he might have dropped the idea of contesting the elections himself, and the Milli Muslim League mightn’t have received the election symbol, that isn’t stopping the affiliated independent candidates from contesting the elections, using Hafiz Saeed’s image on the banner – the man that as per Anti-Terrorism Ordinance 2018 is a terrorist in Pakistan, for being listed by the UN as such.

Hafiz Saeed’s family members are contesting the elections as well, and while one wouldn’t be judged for association, it is of course exceedingly unlikely for them to not be using the man’s name to muster votes, let alone distance themselves from the Lashkar-e-Taiba chief.

While Hafiz Saeed’s hogs many a poster, an entire party founded upon allegiance to Mumtaz Qadri – a man declared and executed as a terrorist by the state of Pakistan – is contesting elections via the Election Commission of Pakistan’s approval.

The Tehrik-e-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLY) has not only called for genocide of an entire community – the Ahmadis – it has plans to go on a killing spree against anyone not agreeing with their understanding of Islam, or those exercising the freedom of conscience and religion that the Constitution of Pakistan grants them.

While we’re on proponents of genocide, Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) Chief Ahmed Ludhianvi will be contesting from NA-115 from the platform of the Rah-i-Haq Party, with Masroor Jhangvi and Muawia Azam having filed their nomination papers from PP-126.

All these banned groups calling for mass murder of sects being allowed to contest elections – let alone being put under a watch and their financial activities curbed – and all Pakistan could get was the grey-list? That’s pretty unfair, one would have to say.

Maybe it’s because the caretaker delegate managed to sell the idea that all this was the mainstreaming of terrorists that Pakistan was orchestrating.

Perhaps there is a Parliamentary order with regards to the process lost somewhere amidst all the election paperwork for the outfits that are undergoing the process.


The writer is a Lahore-based journalist.

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