Pakistan claims it escaped terror net, US says not so fast
Washington :The US said a global watchdog was expected to announce after two days its decision to put Pakistan on a terror watchlist, indicating a Pakistani minister might have prematurely set off celebrations that his country was off the hook.
Pakistani foreign minister Khawaja M Asif said there was no consensus at the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) meeting to place Pakistan on the “grey list” for not complying with anti-money laundering and terrorism financing regulations.
“The final decision on that was due later this week, so I don’t want to get ahead of what that final decision would be,” state department spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters when asked about Asif’s announcement.
Nauert said she didn’t have an independent confirmation that a decision was made early. “We’re anticipating that the final decision would be made on Thursday of this week,” she said.
Asif had tweeted, “Our efforts paid, FATF Paris 20Feb meeting conclusion on US led motion to put Pakistan on watch list — No consensus for nominating Pakistan; proposing 3months pause &asking APG for another report to b considered in June.”
Asif, who is visiting Russia, also thanked “friends who helped”.
He also suggested the meeting proposed a “three months pause” and asked for the Asia Pacific Group, which is part of FATF, to consider “another report in June”.
The United States had proposed putting Pakistan on FATF’s watchlist, which could hurt the country’s economy as it would affect its credit ratings.
Pakistan was on list from 2012 to 2015.
The 37-member group, which was formed in 1987 to check money laundering, has been meeting in Paris and according to reports, the US proposal has the backing of Britain, France and Germany.
Nauert said at the Paris meeting the members countries were looking at the nations that were not doing enough to crack down on terror financing, counterterrorism and the like.
“Pakistan is one of those countries that they’re taking a close look at, and they may be making – they’ll be making an announcement sometime soon,” she said.
The US has in the last few months stepped up pressure on Pakistan to do more to curb terror emanating from its soil. “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan with little help. No more!” President Donald Trump tweeted on January 1.
In the budget presented last week, his administration suggested deeper cuts in aid to Pakistan.