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US asks Pak to show 'visible progress' in anti-terror action to exit FATF list


Islamabad: The US has asked Pakistan to show some "visible progress" in its action against the banned terror outfits and their leaderships to address the concerns of more countries and help Islamabad move out of the grey list of Financial Action Task Force (FATF), according to a media report.

A US delegation was in Islamabad to have an independent assessment of steps, actions and measures identified during the Florida meetings of the the Paris-based anti-money laundering watchdog in June this year and the progress made by Pakistan since then, a senior government official told Pakistani daily Dawn.

In June, the FATF said that Pakistan failed to complete its action plan on terror financing. It warned Islamabad to meet its commitment by October or face action, which could possibly lead to the country getting blacklisted.

The FATF last year placed Pakistan on the grey list of countries whose domestic laws are considered weak to tackle the challenges of money laundering and terrorism financing.

The US delegation's visit comes after Prime Minister Imran Khan visited Washington and held talks with President Donald Trump.

The US delegation comprising Acting Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Ambassador Alice G Wells, US Treasury officials Scott Rembrandt, Grant Vickers, David Galbraith and others met Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Abdul Hafeez Shaikh on Tuesday.

The adviser briefed the visiting delegation on the measures pertaining to economic reforms being undertaken by the Government of Pakistan to ensure economic discipline, efforts being made towards implementation of the FATF Action Plan and the key challenges being faced, said an official statement.

The official, who has been part of Pakistan's team interacting with the FATF and Asia Pacific Group (APG) over the past year, told the daily that Islamabad had taken significant steps since the FATF meetings in June.

He informed the US delegation that the National Assembly's standing committee on finance had cleared two critical bills relating to amendments in foreign exchange regulations and anti-money laundering law.

However, the visiting delegation was interested in a time frame when they would become laws, properly passed by the parliament and signed by the President of Pakistan, the report said.

"The US delegation had rather strong position on taking actions against banned outfits, their activities and movements of their leaderships and key operatives and wanted some visible progress by the authorities to address adverse opinions from majority of FATF members," the official said.

He said the international partners helped Islamabad engage foreign consultants to support and prepare key stakeholders such as the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), the National Counter-Terrorism Authority (Nacta), the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to take actions and formulate reports keeping in view the international perspective.

He claimed that the Pakistani authorities had made significant progress during the past one year, particularly over the past couple of months, but the international perspective in various presentations and reports to the APG and FATF was missing.

He expressed hope that international experts in the four key organisations would bridge those groups.

Ambassador Wells-led team's assessment would be shared with the APG simultaneously with a report to be prepared by Pakistan for discussions in September and then become the basis of FATF meeting due from October 13 to 18 in Paris to decide Islamabad's compliance with requirements of the global financial watchdog relating to anti-money laundering (AML) and to counter terror financing (CFT).

An official statement said Shaikh briefed the delegation regarding implementation of FATF Action Plan and said the government is putting in all-out efforts to complete the action plan, involving all relevant authorities at the federal and provincial levels, supported by capacity building through international partners.

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