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Pak may escape Financial Action Task Force blacklist at Paris plenary

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NEW DELHI: With Pakistan getting the all clear on 14 out of 27 action plans by the FATF at the recent review meeting, chances of it escaping the dreaded blacklist are much brighter as geopolitical considerations and some clever diplomatic moves by Islamabad might make things easier at February’s FATF plenary in Paris.
Sources at the meeting of the Asia-Pacific Group (APG) which wrapped up in Beijing on Thursday, said it was left to India to ask tough questions of Pakistan on its compliance of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) regulations. The four initial sponsors for Pakistan’s greylisting — US, UK, Germany and France — had been more demanding earlier.
According to sources, there is a definite softening of the western position on Pakistan. China has pushed to get Pakistan off the hook at the FATF and will continue to make efforts in the next meeting.
However, French diplomatic sources, when questioned about a possible softening of stance on Pakistan and terror, told TOI, “France is determined to continue combating money laundering and terror financing, and on this occasion, will objectively evaluate, without any concession, Pakistan’s actions.”
They said the meeting in Beijing “analysed Pakistan’s situation from a technical point of view”. A report on actions undertaken by Pakistan for implementing its plan of action will be presented in February, during the FATF plenary meeting in Paris. However, other sources suggested the US and the EU had moved quite a distance to accommodate Pakistan, even being critical of India’s repeated questioning of Islamabad’s compliance record.
The current desire to give Pakistan a reprieve may have its roots in the ongoing peace process in Afghanistan. The US needs Pakistan to deliver the Taliban on the peace deal, which would allow Donald Trump to bring back US troops from Afghanistan before the elections scheduled for November. This unofficial timetable has seen a renewed push on a deal with the Taliban. The latter may agree to a short “reduction of violence” as a concession. The Taliban has to agree to an intra-Afghan dialogue which it has been resisting.
For all this, Pakistan is back in favour with the US. Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was in the US requesting assistance with the FATF — that quid pro quo may be in play. It would explain Trump’s outreach to Pakistan as well as improved US-Pakistan relations. There is little chance of Pakistan getting into the blacklist, but it is likely to stay on the greylist, perhaps with fewer restrictions, sources said. Keeping Pakistan on its side helps the US try to build some distance with China.
According to media reports from Pakistan, it would need an extra 12 votes to stay out of the greylist and in the whitelist. Pakistan, they said, was confident of securing these votes. Pakistan gets support from China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and West Asian countries.



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