New Delhi: Predictably, “brotherly countries” China, Turkey and Malaysia have backed Pakistan over the countrys “risk assessment study” at the FATF meeting being held in Paris, and are likely to vote against a downgrade to the black list.
If good friend China, which heads the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), and members Malaysia and Turkey, continue to support Pakistan despite its low compliance on measures to tackle terrorist funding and money laundering, then it will put a big question mark on the credibility of the global watchdog on terror financing.
According to reports in Pakistani dailies, the FATF examined the compliance report of Pakistan and “expressed satisfaction” over the steps taken by it in line with its action plan to control terror financing and money laundering.
However, the report of the Asia Pacific Group sub group released ahead of the FATF meeting was severely critical of Islamabad for its low compliance on measures to tackle money laundering and terrorist funding, and recommended a downgrade.
Pakistani dailies, quoting sources, said the FATF “appreciated efforts of Pakistan against terrorism and corruption”.
The Pakistani delegation gave satisfactory answers to all questions of FATF and also “satisfied Indian members” on questions about terrorism outfits working in Pakistan.
The Paris-based FATF is reviewing the progress made by Pakistan until April this year, during the FATF Week, which began on Sunday and will conclude on Wednesday.
The review will determine if Pakistan stays on the grey list or is moved to the black list or “given a clean chit”.
The FATF Week will focus on “disrupting financial flows linked to crime and terrorism and discuss ways to contribute to global safety and security”.
“If the FATF doesn’t downgrade Pakistan to black list it will affect the credibility of FATF, as it is an international organisation,” said security expert Jai Kumar Verma.
China and Pakistan are all weather friends. One of the reasons for Beijing to back Islamabad is that it is worried about the growing concern being voiced about the $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project.
“Many people have begun opposing the CPEC, besides in Balochistan, for different reasons. Even intellectuals are saying it is not good for Pakistan. The CPEC is a key part of the Belt Road Initiative (BRI), the dream project of Chinese President Xi Jinping, and China does not want Pakistan to wriggle out of it,” Verma told IANS.
In fact, ahead of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Beijing earlier this month, Islamabad granted tax concessions to four Chinese companies and set up the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority, to allay concerns of the Chinese leadership about CPEC slowdown.
So backing Pakistan at the FATF would be a key aspect linked to the CPEC’s continuing progress.
According to Verma, China “considers India as a potential adversary and that is why it wants to help Pakistan because Pakistan is needling India by sending in terrorists, which is in the interest of China too”.
The FATF meetings in Paris are being attended by representatives from 205 countries as well as jurisdictions around the world, including the International Monetary Fund, UN, World Bank and other organisations.