Pakistan's Pandora Paper leaks can unravel extent of terror financing to FATF

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The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) will open Pakistan's Pandora Papers leaks to reveal the extent of the country's money laundering operations and the covering up of terror finance networks being run by the Pakistani military and intelligence agency.

The global anti-terror watchdog placed Pakistan under its 'increased monitoring' category, also known as the "Grey List", in 2018.

After being put on the grey list, Pakistan has purportedly taken measures to fulfil the "high-level political commitment to work with the FATF and APG to strengthen its AML/CFT regime and address its strategic counter-terrorist financing-related deficiencies".

However, the South Asian country has not taken any serious measures to curb financial networks of terror groups closely linked to or working for the Pakistani state.

Pakistan even instituted very hasty trials against UN-designated terrorists like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief Hafiz Saeed and some of his close associates, and - necessitated by the FATF calendar - the lower courts even convicted Saeed and his associates for various jail terms.

The fact that trial courts convicted these terrorists in a matter of days should have set alarm bells ringing in the FATF in Paris, Federico Giuliani, writing for Inside Over.

Nothing proves this more than the Pandora Paper leaks.

If the action items related to money laundering and tightening of the financial system had indeed been completed, then either there would have been no Pandora Papers leaks, or the state would have moved into action to question the people whose names figured in these leaks, reported Inside Over.

"That has not happened. The reason as said earlier, there are half a dozen top armed forces officers whose names figure in the list and around a dozen people who are either part of the Imran Khan regime or are closely related to people who are in the Imran Khan government," Giuliani wrote.

Clearly, it is the same "see nothing, say nothing, do nothing" attitude that is adopted when it comes to other AML/CFT networks that are linked to the Pakistani State and 'deep state', he added.

On the ground, the AML/CFT networks remain virtually untouched and have been allowed to carry on business as usual.

If FATF is serious then it must insist not just on action points but also ensure that these lead to the fulfilment of the 'immediate outcomes' (IOs), as surely the Pandora Paper leaks will reveal the extent of terror financing.

As far as these IOs are concerned, Pakistan's performance, as per FATF itself is dismal. The third Follow Up Report of the Mutual Evaluation of Pakistan issued in July 2021 reveals that out of 10 immediate Outcomes, Pakistan has a low rating in 9 IOs and a moderate rating in just 1 IO, reported Inside Over.

The Pandora Papers stands testimony to the fact that even as per FATF's own criteria, Pakistan has failed.

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