Pakistan has moved closer to being removed from an influential financial watchdog’s dirty money gray list, the South Asian nation’s foreign minister said.
"Pakistan is one step away from exiting the gray list, God willing," the minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, told a news conference in Islamabad on June 18.
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) said on June 17 that an upcoming visit to verify progress on countering financing of terrorism and money laundering could lead to Pakistan’s removal from the list of countries under increased monitoring.
Marcus Pleyer, president of the Paris-based watchdog, said in announcing the October onsite visit that Pakistan has “largely addressed” all required actions on its action plans, adding that reforms implemented by the country were “good for the stability and security” of Pakistan.
However, he said Pakistan was not immediately being removed from the gray list until an October onsite visit in which Islamabad will have to ensure that it had effectively tackled money laundering and terror funding.
The FATF, founded in 1989 at the initiative of the Group of Seven leading industrial nations, is tasked with developing policies to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
Khar said the country was confident of being removed from the gray list, a move she added would help bolster Pakistan’s economic framework.
"We have not only met the timeline. We have outperformed the timeline," she said. "I'm very confident that if we remain on the same trajectory, we will get out of it, and will never return on this path again."
Following a plenary session in October 2021, the FATF urged Pakistan to “continue to make progress to address as soon as possible" on the one remaining recommendation that still prevented the country from being removed from the gray list of terrorism financing.
The Paris-based FATF placed Pakistan on its watchlist in 2018 amid accusations that the country's powerful military harbors Islamist militants to use them as proxies against India and neighboring Afghanistan.
Being placed on the list can scare away investors and creditors and make global banks wary of doing business with a country.
Following the October 2021 session, the FATF hailed Pakistan’s “continued political commitment” since June 2018 to address its counterterrorist financing-related “deficiencies.”
However, Pleyer told a news conference at the time that the authorities need to “further demonstrate that investigations and prosecutions are being pursued against the senior leadership of UN-designated terror groups.”