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ISLAMABAD: Minister for State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar, Saturday, said that Pakistan is just a step away to get out of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)’s grey list, hopefully in October this year following the procedural requirement of the onsite visit of its technical team to verify the country’s measures undertaken in line with the two given action plans.

Briefing the media after leading Pakistan’s delegation to the FATF plenary meeting in Berlin, she said that as a result of this remarkable achievement, the FATF has authorized an on-site visit of its technical team to Pakistan to validate the process of implementation of reforms.

“It marks the beginning of the end-process that will eventually culminate in the exit of Pakistan from FATF’s grey list. We are working closely with the FATF to arrange the onsite visit at mutually convenient dates with a view to conclude the entire process at the earliest and before the next FATF plenary in October 2022,” she added.

During the plenary meeting, she stated that the recommendations of the FATF’s International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG) on Pakistan’s 2018 and 2021 Action Plans were discussed.

Exit from FATF grey list: Pakistan so close, yet so far

On 2018 action plan, she added that this was the consideration of Pakistan’s eleventh report to FATF.

“FATF has now acknowledged by consensus that all action items have been largely addressed by Pakistan. The 2018 action plan has been closed with no pendency of action on the part of Pakistan,” she added.

On 2021 action plan, which was mostly related to money laundering issues, she pointed out that Pakistan submitted three progress reports. “I am very pleased to announce that Pakistan has completed the entire seven-point Action Plan a year ahead of the prescribed timelines,” she said.

She added that the swift pace and progress are indicative of the comprehensive reforms and actions that have been carried out by Pakistan in the Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/ CFT) domain and the sustained momentum of the country’s efforts.

“Pakistan’s positive and speedy progress was greatly appreciated and welcomed by FATF members. FATF has acknowledged completion of both action plans by Pakistan, duly recognizing our tremendous progress and commitment to improve our AML/ CFT systems,” she added.

Consequent to the fruitful discussions held in the Plenary, she added that the FATF decided, by consensus, that Pakistan has addressed all technical benchmarks and has completed all requirements of both action plans.

As a result of this remarkable achievement, FATF has now authorized an onsite visit of its technical team to Pakistan to validate the process of implementation of reforms, she added.

“The successful completion of the FATF action plans and its formal endorsement by FATF means that Pakistan is now a step away from exiting from the grey list,” she said, adding that the on-site visit is a procedural requirement.

Khar stated that during her interactions on the sidelines of the FATF plenary, she stressed Pakistan’s high-level political commitment that has brought the country’s AML/ CFT framework at par with global standards. “We have been highlighting the complete national consensus in Pakistan on this issue which is supported by institutional harmony and synergy,” she added.

“I want to take this opportunity to stress once again that Pakistan’s cooperation with the FATF and the international community is grounded in our strategic objective of strengthening our economy and further improve its integration with the international financial system. I am confident that this good news from FATF will restore confidence in our economy, will give it a much-needed boost, and would improve investment climate,” she added.

She acknowledged the tireless efforts of Pakistan’s teams who worked day and night to achieve the objectives and completed FATF action plans. “This was indeed a whole of country response. Multiple ministries, departments and agencies, at all levels of the government have contributed to this national cause. It also demonstrates that when we work together with a sense of purpose we can achieve remarkable things,” she stated.

The Minister of State also expressed gratitude to the international partners and friends for their understanding, support and cooperation throughout this process. “By the Grace of God, Pakistan is in a position that not only can sustain its trajectory of reforms well into the future, but can also provide guidance and technical support to other countries in this area,” she said.

She pointed out that removal from the grey list would be a new beginning and Pakistan would then look towards strengthening its systems according to its own requirements as opposed to reporting to others.

To a question, she said that Pakistan was the only country asked to complete two action plans. “It was quite unprecedented. We were, in fact, the only country that had two simultaneous action plans to implement. It was tedious, arduous, it was difficult and there was a legal framework to take care of. There were amendments to do and then there was institutionalization of new laws, the building of structures and the system,” she pointed out.

Responding to another query, she said that the incumbent government was willing ‘to share credit with whoever wants a piece of the pie as the action plan was implemented over several years.’

“If I will give credit to anyone, it will be my team – Pakistan’s team – because we are representing the State of Pakistan right now. I will give credit to every member of the team who is visible and in the background,” she said in response to another query about the credit taking by institutions and the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

“Let’s not be overly celebratory right now. The process has started and the on-site visit is due and even after that our journey will continue. The strengthening of legislation and administration will continue. It seems that there is more interest in taking credit for the development than the development itself,” she said, adding that the incumbent government would “not react to immaturity with immaturity”.

To another query, Khar said that Pakistan has always emphasized that the FATF must be apolitical and technical in its conduct.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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