The whole purpose of Pakistan submitting the compliance report well before the February 2020 deadline is aimed only at bypassing the threat of being upgraded from the "Grey List" to the much harsher and more financially debilitating "Black List", Indian analysts in New Delhi said.
Islamabad submitted the report to the FATF’s joint group on Tuesday to showcase its efforts to change the country’s anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing laws. It is now hoping for a favourable response by the month-end, Pakistan daily The News International quoted Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar as saying.
“Pakistan is a master at getting compliance reports and legislation passed or approved and then figuring out ways to circumvent them. Their past record clearly suggests that. There is also doubt and criticism over whether they are really even prosecuting individuals designated as terrorists globally,” Sushant Sareen, Senior Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), a New Delhi-based think tank, told Sputnik on Wednesday.
“The objective is to get out of the FATF’s Grey List without clearing up their act. This seems to be the trajectory in which they are heading,” he added.
Commenting on the timing of the submission of the compliance report just four days before an anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Lahore is to deliver its verdict on terror financing cases (23 in total) against globally-designated terrorist Saeed and his accomplices, Sareen opined: “As regards Hafiz Saeed – they (courts of Pakistan) may indict people like him on 7 December. But as has often happened in the past, Islamabad has this innate ability to hide behind its judicial process, where the hearing of such cases continues endlessly and it will all be back to square one.”
“If we go by past record, a verdict against Hafiz Saeed may be visible on paper and in the public domain, but courts in Pakistan allow people like him to go free or release him on bail, etc., and also don’t hesitate to blame India in spite of their being actionable intelligence” said Qamar Agha, another Indian analyst.
“Pakistan’s judiciary is increasingly being influenced by fundamentalist groups like the Jamaat-e-Islami and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) which is an offshoot of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind. These groups also have close links with the Pakistan Army and militant organisations subscribe to their ideology. I feel this revival of cases is all just drama,” he added.
Asked why Islamabad is anxious about submitting compliance reports to the FATF well before the February 2020 deadline, Agha said: “Of course it wants to get off the Grey List. Foreign investment is not coming in and the country’s economic situation is precarious and critical, very bad actually.”
“The international community is fully aware of the fact that militants are operating in an unrestricted manner; infiltration is taking place. Who is funding them? The Pakistan state obviously. Pakistan has the support of Arab nations and some countries in South East Asia, but ultimately western nations will determine whether it remains on the Grey or Black List,” Agha further maintained.
Islamabad is hoping that anti-money laundering watchdog FATF extends the current deadline of complying with the 27 listed action plans from February to June 2020. The FATF had already granted an extension till February 2020 during its plenary meeting in October this year after it confirmed that Pakistan had cleared only five of the 27 action plans.
The task force has warned Islamabad that it would be put on the blacklist if it did not comply with the remaining 22 plans related to anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing.
The first formal response from the FATF is awaited at the end of this month.