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Pakistan saved from FATF terrorist finance list: Did Russia let India down?

An American-led motion to put Pakistan back on a terrorist financing watchlist at the FATF has failed, claimed Pakistan's Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif

BS Web Team  |  New Delhi 

Hafiz Saeed
Hafiz Saeed, the head of proscribed Pakistan-based terrorist organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba, was one of the figures that had got Islamabad in trouble at the FATF in the past. (Photo: AP | PTI)

Pakistan might have escaped the consequences of its support to terrorist organisations at the (FATF) meeting on Tuesday, with the help of Russia and two other countries. Islamabad reportedly secured a last-minute reprieve from the and avoided being put back on a global list of countries that According to reports in the Pakistani media, member states failed to reach a consensus on placing Islamabad on the global watchdog's grey list.

Pakistani daily The Express Tribune reported that while concrete details were not available, Pakistani Foreign Office sources suggested that China, Turkey, and Russia, all of them members of FATF, opposed the motion against Pakistan.

By now, there might not be any surprise over Beijing shielding Islamabad from the fall-out of its support for proscribed terrorist organisations -- China has protected Masood Azhar, the leader of Pakistan-based terrorist organisation (JeM), by preventing the Security Council from sanctioning him as an international terrorist. However, if reports of Russia's involvement are accurate, the development could raise eyebrows in New Delhi, given its close defence ties and strategic partnership with Moscow.

Described as a "long-standing and time-tested partner" by India, Russia was reportedly among the countries that were not on board with the proposal to place Pakistan back on the With the resultant failure in arriving at a consensus, the watchdog did not table the motion, which was jointly moved by the US and the United Kingdom (UK) against Pakistan, for voting in its plenary session.

What relief did Pakistan get?

Pakistan has received a three-month-long reprieve over the motion to put the country on FATF's watchlist, according to agency reports.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Khwaja Asif, currently on a visit to Russia, tweeted the details of the relief secured by Islamabad.

According to Asif, there was "no consensus for nominating Pakistan" at the meeting. He also said that the meeting proposed a "three-month pause" and asked for the Asia Pacific Group (APG), which is part of FATF, to consider "another report in June".

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FATF, which began its week-long plenary meeting on Sunday in Paris, was supposed to take a call on the proposal to put Pakistan back on the "grey list" of countries that have failed to put a stop to terror financing.

According to a Reuters report, Pakistan's de facto finance minister, Miftah Ismail, had said the US and Britain had put forward the motion several weeks ago. Ismail added that they later persuaded France and Germany to co-sponsor it.

Being placed on the watchlist carries no direct legal implication but brings extra scrutiny from regulators and financial institutions. That could have chilled trade and investment and increased transaction costs, according to experts.

ALSO READ: Hafiz Saeed declared a terrorist: China's failure behind Pakistan move?

The was established in 1989 to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, and checking other related threats to the international financial system.

It has developed a series of recommendations that are recognised as the international standard for combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

First Published: Wed, February 21 2018. 13:24 IST