ISLAMABAD: Members of the former PTI cabinet hailed on Friday the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) announcement that Pakistan had met all 34 items on two separate action plans.
The watchdog will now schedule an on-site visit to verify the implementation and sustainability of the country’s money laundering and counter-terrorism financing measures, adding that Pakistan will be taken off the grey list if it successfully passes the on-site visit.
Soon after the development, former prime minister Imran Khan said “FATF repeatedly praised the work and political will my govt demonstrated”.
He said when his government came to power [in 2018], it faced the “direct prospect of blacklisting” by the body, adding that the country’s compliance history with the FATF was also not favourable.
“I constituted a FATF Coordination Committee headed by key minister Hammad Azhar. The committee had representation from all government departments and security agencies relevant to our FATF action plan. The officers worked day and night in the first instance to avoid blacklisting.
“FATF repeatedly praised the work and the political will my government demonstrated. We not only averted blacklisting, but also completed 32 out of 34 action items. We submitted a compliance report on the remaining two items in April based on which FATF now declared Pakistan’s Action Plan as completed,” he said.
Imran expressed confidence that the FATF’s on-site visit would also be a success. He lauded Azhar, saying the former energy minister, members of his FATF coordination committee and relevant officers had “performed exceptionally well”.
“The whole country is proud of you,” he said.
Hammad Azhar, who was the former energy minister and also the government’s top coordinator for efforts on anti-money laundering and counter-terror financing over the past four years, hailed the FATF’s acknowledgment of Pakistan’s compliance as “a great landmark”.
In a tweet, Azhar said FATF rated Pakistan compliant on all 34 action items.
“Only 2 action items were outstanding and based on compliance done during Oct-March period, they have been cleared too. All countries that exit grey list undergo onsite visits as per the procedure.”
Meanwhile, PTI leader and former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi credited the PTI and ex-PM Imran Khan for “the achievement”, recalling the country was put on the grey list during the PML-N’s tenure in 2018.
He said FATF had declared both action plans complete whose compliance report was submitted by the PTI government in March.
Earlier today, Azhar had shared a picture of himself standing with officers, saying that Pakistan’s hard work on completing the 34-action items was a result of the “teamwork of officers that worked day and night in different government departments. They are the real heroes!”
As speculation mounted on Pakistan’s possible exit from the list, members of the former PTI government cabinet, claimed credit for the purported development.
Former finance minister Shaukat Tarin said the “removal” was another feather in the cap of Hammad Azhar, who was the former energy minister and also the government’s top coordinator for efforts on anti-money laundering and counter-terror financing.
“Another success of PTI govt. #FATF #ThankYouImranKhan,” tweeted former human rights minister Shireen Mazari.
Senator Ejaz Chaudhry said he hoped Pakistan would exit the grey list today, terming it the result of the Imran Khan-led government’s work. Chaudhry feared that the incumbent government would take credit for it.
The party’s official Twitter account also said, “If we get on #FATF whitelist today, imported govt will probably try to take credit. But everyone must know that since regime change, there have been no laws related to FATF that they have passed, hence if this success on FATF comes, it will be another #ThankYouImranKhan event!”