- State dept spokesperson Ned Price says Pakistan has made significant progress, encourages Islamabad to continue working with global watchdog
- Shares progress on Afghans who have applied for special immigrant visas
The United States (US) has encouraged Pakistan to expeditiously implement its new second action plan, while recognising Islamabad's efforts in satisfying obligations that would help its case with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
In June, Pakistan was kept on the FATF's increased monitoring list -- also called the grey list -- after having met 26 of the 27 items on the action plan. It was also asked to work on "the deficiencies later identified in Pakistan's 2019 Asia Pacific Group (APG) Mutual Evaluation Report (MER)".
However, many in Pakistan believed that the country could have been removed from the grey-list, and said "politicisation" was behind the decision.
During the weekly press briefing, Spokesperson for the US Department of State, Ned Price, was asked whether Pakistan was abiding by the FATF's conditions, and how far it was from being removed from the watchdog's grey list.
Price said that Pakistan has made significant progress on its first action plan with 26 of 27 action items largely addressed. "The US supports Islamabad's continued efforts to satisfy those obligations.
"We encourage Pakistan to continue working with the FATF and the international community to swiftly complete the remaining action item by demonstrating that terrorism financing, investigations, and prosecutions target senior leaders and commanders of UN-designated groups," Price said.
"We do further encourage Pakistan to expeditiously implement its new second action plan."
Price's statement comes after India's admission that Narendra Modi's government ensured that Pakistan remained on FATF's grey list.
“Due to us, Pakistan is under the lens of FATF and it was kept in the grey list,” ANI quoted Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankaras as saying. “We have been successful in pressuring Pakistan and the fact that its behaviour has changed is because of pressure put by India by various measures."
On June 25, the FATF said that Pakistan will continue to stay on its grey list. In the press briefing, FATF President Marcus Pleyer, said “all deficiencies” must be addressed if a country wishes to be removed from the increased monitoring list.
“It will be discouraging for other countries if they complete the entire action plan. We treat all countries equally,” said Pleyer when asked if it was going to be discouraging for Pakistan given that it completed 26 of the 27 items in the action plan.
While talking about the Afghanistan peace process, Price said that the US believes that only a negotiated settlement can bring an end to 40 years of conflict that the Afghan people have endured, and "we urge the Taliban to uphold the commitment in the joint declaration".
When asked about the Taliban reversing the gains that the country has made in terms of women rights and children’s rights, Price responded by saying that a government that does not respect human rights, that seeks to rule at the barrel of a gun, will not be a government that has legitimacy either on the part of the Afghan people or from the Afghan.
"And any government that comes to power that is willing to let those gains be entirely squandered, that is willing to stand idly by, or worse, as Afghanistan’s women, girls, minorities are deprived of their rights, that is not a government that will be legitimate in the eyes of the international community," the spokesperson added.
Meanwhile, Price also announced that the US is planning to relocate a group of Afghans who have applied for the special immigrant visa (SIV) program to Fort Lee, a US Army post in Virginia.
These include thousands of Afghan interpreters and translators who worked for the US throughout its nearly two-decade military campaign in the country. “They will be provided temporary housing and services as they complete the final steps in the special immigrant process,” Price said.
"The US Government will fund the transportation of SIV applicants and their immediate families until they have status as special immigrants," Price added.
"And then resettled Afghan SIVs, like refugees, will receive resettlement benefits through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program administered by resettlement agencies and their affiliates across the country for the first 30 to 90 days after arrival."