The observers of the geopolitics of the Af-Pak region are not surprised by the latest decision of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global anti-terror watchdog, to continue to put Pakistan on the ‘grey list’, where it has been since 2018. It is clear that Islamabad is yet to take decisive and effective actions to rein in the terrorist outfits operating from its soil. While announcing the decision at the end of its plenary, the highest decision making body, the Paris-based global watchdog has voiced concern over the current and evolving money laundering and terrorist financing risk environment in the Taliban-controlled Afghanistan and its possible spillover in Pakistan. This means that there is going to be greater monitoring by the global body on activities relating to money laundering, terror financing and proliferation financing in Pakistan. Going by the Imran Khan government’s open support to the Taliban and the growing signs of encouraging the anti-India terrorist outfits, there is little hope that Islamabad will change its ways anytime soon. Despite being repeatedly asked by the FATF to take action on terror outfits such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), Islamabad has done precious little. In fact, Pakistani authorities have repeatedly tried to hoodwink the international community by taking some cosmetic and largely inconsequential measures. In the June 2021 plenary, Pakistan was given some extra parameters to work on by the FATF. It has been on the FATF’s ‘grey list’ since June 2018 and finds itself isolated internationally on the issue of terrorism.
Pakistan is facing the difficult task of clearing its name from the FATF grey list because of its duplicity and deviousness. Islamabad-based think tank Tabadlab has revealed that the economic cost of being on the grey list since 2008 was around $38 billion. The figure was arrived at on the basis of a decrease in consumption expenditures, foreign direct investment and exports. Due to its placing on the grey list, it has become increasingly difficult for Pakistan to get financial aid from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the European Union. The reason Pakistan keeps entering the grey list is because of its failure to shut all access to funding of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC)-designated terrorist groups, including the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad. Its anti-terror law remains a sham and out of sync with standards set by the international body. Pakistan, which remains the global state-sponsored terrorism hub, continues to mislead the world with an elaborate farce to cover up its sponsorship of terror. The international community is keenly watching how it will implement the mandated action plan to stop terror funding and money laundering.