The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has put off putting Pakistan on its blacklist, but has retained it on its grey list, and will decide in June whether or not the country is compliant with its 27-point Action Plan. This postponement of blacklisting should not be followed by any lack of sincerity in fulfilling FATF demands, and should lead to actions required, no matter the institutional interest that might be protected by the present situation. No institutional interest can be placed above the national interest. It can be argued that FATF is just an extension of the Washington-consensus institutions like the World Bank and the IMF, but it should be remembered that FATF blacklisting would mean the closing of access to the world’s financial markets, and so dependent on those markets is the country that government finances would collapse so badly that official institutions would find themselves damaged, perhaps irretrievably so. It should not be forgotten that the IMF programme, by which the government sets so much store, is reliant on Pakistan avoiding being blacklisted.
The FATF Paris meeting gave Pakistan an eight-point plan to ensure compliance with the original plan. The plenary is supposed to have expressed satisfaction with how Pakistan was progressing, after it was informed that Pakistan was either compliant, or close to compliance, on more than half of the action-plan points. If there has been any Indian attempts to have Pakistan blacklisted, they will be defeated by effective diplomacy, which will have to be based on genuine efforts, rather than asking for help in evading the FATF. Pakistan must be clear in doing what is good for it, not serving some other agenda.
The FATF decision coming after Jama’at-ud-Da’wah chief Hafiz Saeed was convicted for money laundering after a number of times being arrested only to be released later. The USA evidently set great store by this. Its wishes should be considered, for if it was to decide to support whitelisting, many other countries, more than the required number, would also lend their support. Pakistan is also crucial to the USA in Afghanistan where a peace deal with the Taliban is within sight. According to the US there are elements still present within Pakistan like Saeed that need to be dealt with. And it cannot be over-emphasised that handling them is in Pakistan’s best interests.