- Minister of State for Foreign Affairs says Pakistan now only needs to prepare for the on-site visit, entire process expected to be complete before October plenary
Pakistan has said that it is closely working with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to arrange the on-site visit with a view to conclude the entire process before the October plenary.
In a press conference on Saturday, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar, the chair of Pakistan’s National FATF Coordination Committee and who led the country's delegation in Berlin, said that following the FATF's announcement, Pakistan now only needs to prepare for the visit which is going to be a technical evaluation of all the claims it has made.
"All action plans items have been ticked off, largely addressed, and nothing is pending," she said.
She further said that Pakistan had submitted three progress reports to the FATF regarding an action plan given last year related to money-laundering. She said she was pleased to announce that Pakistan "has completed the entire seven-point action plan a year ahead of the given timelines".
Khar said the on-site visit was part of FATF's procedure for removing Pakistan from the grey list and would validate the process of implementation of reforms.
"Pakistan is one step away from exiting the grey list," she added. "I also want to stress that Pakistan's cooperation with the FATF and the international community is grounded in our strategic objective of strengthening our economy and improving its integration in the international financial system."
On Friday, the FATF said it will conduct an on-site visit of Pakistan at the earliest possible date, as it acknowledged the "significant progress" the country has made in strengthening its Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) regime.
According to the FATF, an on-site visit is conducted to confirm that the implementation of the necessary legal, regulatory, and/or operational reforms is underway and there is the necessary political commitment and institutional capacity to sustain implementation.
If the on-site visit has a positive outcome, the FATF will decide on removing the jurisdiction from public identification at the next FATF plenary.
"Since June 2018, when Pakistan made a high-level political commitment to work with the FATF and APG to strengthen its AML/CFT regime and to address its strategic counter-terrorist financing-related deficiencies, Pakistan’s continued political commitment to combating both terrorist financing and money laundering has led to significant progress," it said in a statement.
During a press conference, FATF president Dr Marcus Pleyer said an on-site visit is normal after the action plan is largely complete.
"The purpose of the on-site visit is to check whether all the items on the action plan are met in a sustainable fashion and implemented fully," said Dr Pleyer in response to a question.
"It will be a longer on-site visit due to the two separate action plans. However, I can tell you that this will definitely be (complete) before October's plenary."
Dr Pleyer's statement implies that Pakistan could come off the 'grey-list' pending the outcome of the on-site visit.
Meanwhile, in the presser, Khar said that she wants to emphasise on the tireless efforts of teams who have done a tremendous job in achieving these strenuous, difficult and complicated targets.
She said many departments and agencies at the federal and provincial level contributed to the national cause. "This also demonstrates that when we work together, all of the country, all of the nation, we can achieve sometimes what is considered to be impossible. This is going to be a cross-government effort," she added.
On a question, Khar said Pakistan has always emphasised that FATF must remain apolitical, however, she said we know there was "a certain country that has always tried to make this process a political one.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif felicitated the nation and welcomed the announcement.
Shehbaz said the statement of FATF is a recognition of the restoration of the international reputation of Pakistan.
Moreover, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Friday said that the completion of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Action Plans by Pakistan is a great achievement.
According to a tweet issued by Director-General Inter-Services Public Relations (DG ISPR) Major General Babar Iftikhar, COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa said that the completion the FATF’s anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism plans by Pakistan is a great achievement. This monumental effort has paved the way for white listing of Pakistan, it added.