Friday, October 30, 2020

Pakistan seeks US help to get off FATF grey list

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Pakistan has urged the United States to get it off the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which monitors global money laundering and terror financing.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said at a news briefing here on Friday night that Pakistan hoped the US would back its efforts to get it off the list at the FATF’s Beijing meeting next month.

“This meeting is very important for us as it leads to a plenary meeting in Paris in April where the world body will decide whether Pakistan remains on the list or is taken off,” he said.

The FATF has placed Pakistan on a list of countries that have failed to eradicate money laundering and where terrorists can still raise funds for their activities. If not removed off the list by April, Pakistan may move to a blacklist of countries that face severe economic sanctions, such as Iran.

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Meeting of global terror financing monitor to be held in Beijing next month

Mr Qureshi concluded his three-day visit to the United States on Friday after a series of meetings with key US lawmakers and officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien. The foreign minister spent the week touring Iran, Saudi Arabia and the US on a diplomatic mission meant to defuse tensions between Washington and Tehran.

At his news briefing, Mr Qureshi also urged the US to review its travel advisories for Pakistan and encourage investments in the country. US travel advisories still present Pakistan as a country Americans should avoid travelling because of terrorism threats.

“Reviewing the advisory can boost tourism in Pakistan,” he said while reminding Washington that the United Nations had recently included Pakistan among 10 top tourism destinations. The United Nations and several European countries also had once again declared Islamabad as a safe city for diplomats and their families, he said while asking Washington to do the same.

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Asked why the FATF’s Beijing meeting was important, Mr Qureshi said that decisions taken in China’s capital would also impact the Force’s Paris plenary, which would decide whether Pakistan stayed in or was taken off the gray list.

“We want our American friends to tell us what’s their policy,” he said. “You share with us what measures you have taken or intend to.”

The minister acknowledged that removal from the FATF list could not happen overnight, but said that the US could enhance its engagements with Pakistan while waiting for the removal.

“Please consider how you can help improve Pakistan’s exports, increase our forex reserves, we need your guidance there too,” he said. “We also need your investment in the tourism industry.”

Mr Qureshi noted that in his meetings with Prime Minister Imran Khan last year, US President Donald Trump had said that he wanted to see Pakistan off the FATF gray list. “So, we expect US officials to work for it now.”

The foreign minister said Islamabad had taken several concrete steps to meet FATF demands and the time had come for the US to fulfil President Trump’s pledge.

Mr Qureshi recalled that when Secretary Pompeo came to Islamabad in 2018, “I told him that we are interested in resetting our bilateral relationship. Mr Pompeo said this could only be routed through Kabul.”

And “today, I told him we fulfilled our promise. The Taliban came to the table. Then you said the delegation should be authoritative and powerful, we did that,” he said.

“Then we were told the insurgents were holding two Western hostages. If they are released, it will create goodwill and break the stalemate. Our security establishment held 72 meetings and you saw two hostages reach home safely.”

When Pakistan got that done, “they said the Taliban must give this understanding that they will stop blood-letting and hostilities. This was not an easy task, but this too has happened. The Taliban are willing to end all hostilities,” Mr Qureshi said.

“So, now my message for them is: this is a golden chance.

There’s no military solution to the Afghan conflict. All regional powers, including Iran, are supporting it. So, avail it and sign an agreement. That agreement will lead to an intra-Afghan dialogue. They should follow this pattern,” he said.

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He reminded Washington that “Pakistan fulfilled your expectations. Now’ we too had some expectations, what have you done?”

APP adds: Later, the foreign affairs minister arrived in Doha on an important visit.

Senior officers of the Qatari foreign ministry, Pakistan’s ambassador in Qatar Syed Ahsan Raza Shah and senior officials of the embassy received the foreign minister at the airport.

During the visit, the foreign minister would call on his Qatari counterpart Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani and discuss bilateral and regional matters with him.

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