FeaturedInternationalVOLUME 16 ISSUE # 24

FATF: India’s disgraceful role behind the scenes

Indian duplicity in its dealings with Pakistan has once again come out in all its ugliness. A few days ago, India’s Minister for External Affairs S Jaishankar said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, led by Narendra Modi, had ensured that Pakistan remained on the “grey list” of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

“Due to us, Pakistan is under the lens of the FATF and it was kept in the grey list,” Jaishankar was quoted as saying by the Hindustan Times while addressing a virtual training programme on foreign policy for BJP leaders. He added: “We have been successful in pressurising Pakistan and the fact that Pakistan’s behaviour has changed is because of pressure put by India by various measures.” During the session, the minister also credited the Indian government’s efforts “through the United Nations” for sanctions on proscribed organisations such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad responded to the disturbing claims by saying it had exposed India’s “true colours” and “duplicitous role”. As the Pakistan Foreign Office has pointed out, the Indian foreign minister’s statement that the Narendra Modi government had ensured Pakistan remained on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) grey list has vindicated Pakistan’s longstanding stance on “India’s negative role” in the global financial watchdog.

However, it is generally recognised by all countries, including the US and EU member states, that Pakistan has made serious and sincere efforts to meet FATF requirements. For instance, the US has said it supports Pakistan’s efforts to meet the global financial watchdog’s conditions and acknowledges that the country has made “significant progress” on the original action plan. The State Department has also encouraged Pakistan to complete the remaining actions “expeditiously” in the second action plan.

The US statement has great significance as it comes in the wake of India’s public acknowledgement that it had ensured Pakistan remained on the FATF grey list. It has long been suspected that India has been working behind the scenes to ensure that Pakistan remained on the grey list despite the country’s impressive progress in fulfilling FATF requirements. “While Pakistan has been sincerely and constructively engaged with the FATF during the implementation of the action plan, India has left no stone unturned in casting doubt on Pakistan’s progress through disgraceful means,” said the FO statement.

Needless to say, the Indian minister’s statement comes as clear proof of New Delhi’s negative role in the matter. At the same time it raises questions about the fairness of the decision-making process within the FATF itself. The episode provides a peek into how various countries deviously try to influence decisions to advance their political and strategic interests.

In the light of the Indian minister’s admission, neutral observers have rightly feared that Pakistan may have been faced with shifting goal posts in terms of meeting the FATF obligations. It may be recalled here that the FATF had announced on June 25 that Pakistan would continue to remain on the grey list until it addressed the single item on the original action plan that is still to be implemented as well as items on a parallel action list that was handed out by the watchdog’s regional partner, the Asia Pacific Group. With Pakistan having made such appreciable progress in its actions, the July 25 decision to keep Pakistan on the grey list came as a surprise. It now transpires how this came about.

In the given circumstances, the FATF must take serious notice of the Indian minister’s statement and take New Delhi to task for bringing the FATF into disrepute. If a perception is created that countries are using the FATF platform to settle scores, then the credibility of the international watchdog comes under a shadow and its mandate loses its utility and validity.

On its part, Pakistan should take immediate steps exposing India’s role to the international community by bringing the recent “confession” to the FATF and international community’s notice. Pakistan should also consider approaching the financial watchdog for “appropriate action” in the matter.

Irrespective of what has happened, Pakistan should continue to work to complete the remaining agenda item and take action against the leaders of UN-designated terror groups. Pakistan has already done a lot to strengthen its existing laws and enacted new legislation to fulfil FATF requirements. It is also putting in place the requisite administrative framework to ensure effective implementation of the laws. Doubtless, it is time the FATF acknowledged Pakistan’s efforts and moved to strike its name off the grey list. Also, following the confession by the Indian minister, it should review India’s credentials for assessing Pakistan in the FATF as co-chair of the Joint Group.