Nemesis appears to be fast catching up with Pakistan for unabashedly nurturing terror on its soil. The decision of the Asia-Pacific Group of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global anti-money laundering watchdog, to put Pakistan on ‘enhanced blacklist’ for its failure to meet global standards comes as a vindication of India’s long-held position that Islamabad has turned into a fountainhead of global terrorism. It is a matter of shame that the FATF has found Pakistan non-compliant on 32 of the 40 compliance parameters on money-laundering and terror financing, even after being given a long rope. It now has time till October to initiate urgent measures to the satisfaction of the Paris-based watchdog or face the humiliation of being permanently blacklisted, a situation similar to facing international sanctions. Since June 2018, Pakistan has been on the ‘grey list’ of countries whose domestic laws are considered weak to tackle the challenges of money laundering and terrorism financing. It has failed to take steps to rein in even the UN-designated terrorists. Along with India, other member countries of the FATF have charged Pakistan with failing to take concrete action against Hafiz Saeed, Masood Azhar and other terrorists because its anti-terror law remains a sham and out of sync with standards set by the international body. The latest decision of the FATF, taken at a meeting in Australia’s Canberra, should be extremely worrisome for Pakistan because such rankings will worsen its chances of getting loans from international credit agencies or even attract foreign investments. The country is already going through the worst economic crisis.
Over the years, Pakistan has mastered duplicity into an art form and tried to hoodwink the international community on the issue of terrorism. It has now become a familiar pattern with Islamabad to initiate some cosmetic measures to mislead the world whenever there is intense global pressure on terrorism. But then, it is back to business as usual. However, it can no longer play with fire. If Pakistan fails to comply with global standards to curb terror financing, it would risk being downgraded by the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and Asian Development Bank, besides facing negative assessments by credit rating agencies. This would prove disastrous for a country that is desperately seeking aid from all possible international avenues. Earlier this month, the US too had urged Pakistan to expand the FATF safeguards to informal sectors of the economy amid growing concerns over slow progress on implementation of the 27-point action plan. In the past, it had earned the reprieve and avoided the ignominy of being blacklisted, thanks to generous help from its all-weather ally China, Malaysia and Turkey. However, Islamabad must realise that it cannot continue its duplicitous game anymore.