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Pak in FATF Grey List: What transpired behind the scenes with China and Saudi

By Vicky Nanjappa
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    New Delhi, June 30: India welcomed a global terror financing watchdog demoting Pakistan to a 'grey list' for underperforming in rooting out sources of finance for terrorists within its borders and for not taking enough - or any, at all - action in curbing activities of terror elements who roam freely within its provinces.

    Pak in FATF Grey List: What transpired behind the scenes with China and Saudi

    The watchdog, the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF), on Wednesday greylisted Pakistan. Pakistan however avoided the far graver 'black list' by agreeing to comply with a 26-point action plan formulated by the International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG) of the Asia Pacific Group.

    Back in February 2018, the FATF had decided add Pakistan to the Grey List from June onwards. There was some amount of drama at that time when Pakistan's foreign minister, Khwaja Asif had tweeted that his country had given a three month reprieve by the FATF. A day later that changed and Pakistan was told it would be part of the list from June 2018 onwards.

    Now, to get Pakistan on the watchlist was no easy task. The backing of both China and Saudi Arabia was needed. Pakistan had hoped that China would back it and get it out of the list. However the United States was particular that China does not back Pakistan on this.

    When the matter was being deliberated earlier this year, Asif had even visited Russia to lobby against the resolution. However Asif made the announcement before anything was said on the issue formally. This led to Russia backing out as the country did not favour any public announcement.

    However when the decision was made, Pakistan's all weather friend China backed out only to support the resolution by the United States. Saudi Arabia too backed the US and Turkey was the only country that stood with Pakistan. 

    The change in standby China is what is interesting, considering the country had blocked a similar attempt during the Buenos Aires plenary of the FATF held in November last year.

    To get China and Saudi on board, there was some hard bargaining done by the US.

    Sources in Delhi say that the US pushed hard and the Trump administration was adamant that Pakistan makes it to the Grey List. To get China on board, the US offered it the post of vice-president of the FATF. The VP of the FATF is also the president-designate. China was told that the post of VP could be occupied by its member starting July 1. After the deal was struck, China decided to pull out its opposition against Pakistan.

    Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, was offered a full member of the FATF. The US decided to make it a full member starting July. Finally, it was only Turkey which backed Pakistan.

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