The extent of how poorly Pakistan has performed in countering terrorist financing has never been in dispute, despite our legitimate objections to being put on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) grey list. The National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) only recently declared that it was unable to provide a National Risk Assessment report, which is crucial to convincing the FATF that Pakistan has the capacity to fight money laundering and terrorist financing. The failure is one that should not only impact the FATF, but also raise concerns for ordinary Pakistanis who have been promised a coherent strategy to tackle terrorist financing in the country for almost two decades. The FATF task force handed over a 12-point action plan to Pakistan, which the country would do well to implement. With the Asia Pacific Group of the organisation set to review Pakistan’s progress on these points, we will discover more soon about how authorities have gone about tackling terrorist financing. If necessary progress has not been made, Pakistan could face further international sanction, which would weaken its already precarious economic status. The National Executive Committee, tasked with implementing the policy action, has met to produce a progress report for submission to the Asia Pacific Group.
This week will be a crucial one for how Pakistan is perceived in the financial world. Many of the promises made to end terrorist finance have been made with bravado, but there is little in terms of concrete measures taken to check formal and informal terrorist finance. The fact that neither Nacta nor the FIA is willing to prepare the required National Risk Assessment report does not bode well for what is coming. The absence of NRAs was crucial in the FATF decision to grey list the country. Now, it seems more to be a case of pleading to the international community, rather than instituting a system which has stringent checks on to whom funds are going to. It is stunning to see that no one has moved to produce a report so crucial to showing that Pakistan sees the FATF regulations to be designed to help it achieve its own objectives. Curbing money laundering and terrorist financing is important for Pakistan’s own future. Pakistan should have the freedom to set its own barometers for progress, but a situation of no progress cannot be considered to be enough. The 15-month time period given to Pakistan to comply with international money laundering and counter terrorist finance frameworks is sufficient for a country that is at war with terrorism. It is important that all parts of the government involved pull their weight.