The last preliminary of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) of the
year ended in Paris with bad news for Pakistan. It has given yet
another extension of Pakistan’s inclusion in its ‘grey list’. The Imran
Khan government might well have anticipated the snub from France,
a country it has been attacking for banning wearing of the burqa in
None of the 39 members of FATF decided to take notice of high-pitch
propaganda by Pakistan blaming India for its continuous grey listing
for over three years. Turkey and China were not able to do much to
extricate Pakistan from the grey list in view of the evidence FATF
teams found during on-site visits. Primarily, Pakistan’s troubles are
a sequel to its shameless refusal to meet its June 2018 commitments
for a reprieve.
Keeping company with Pakistan in the dubious category of countries
aiding terror financing is Turkey, which has been involved in conflicts
in many Muslim nations, including Syria, while jockeying for the
position of a top Islamic nation.
Jordan and Mali also made it to the FATF grey list. Jordan is a
country that has been close to Pakistan from the early days of the
Cold War, loaning its fighter planes to whenever it attacked India.
Mali is gripped by a Jehadist insurgency.
Turkey is part of the Nato while Jordan is known in the Arab world
for its proximity to the West and the US. This may be an ominous
signal for Pakistan, suggesting that military pacts and close ties with
Washington do not come in the way of calling out a country’s
unmitigated links to terror.
While Turkey has become a grey lister for the first time, Pakistan is
a grey list ‘veteran’—having been there once from 2012 to 2015.
Turkey will now give company to its ‘brother’ Pakistan.
As many as 23 countries are on the FATF grey list. Most of them are
in the midst of unrest like Syria and Yemen or allegedly aiding
militancy in other countries; some countries found themselves in the
grey list because of their attractions as tax haven—countries like
Cayman Islands, Panama and Barbados. The tax havens not only
attract fugitive billionaires and the rich from all over the world but
also terrorists, druggists and other high-end criminals!
The latest propaganda pitch from Islamabad is that India has been
maligning Pakistan all these years while it was exporting terror and
even profiting from drug trafficking and poppy cultivation in preTaliban Afghanistan. The shrill noises of the Pakistani descendants
of Goebbels are probably meant to impress the largely radicalised
domestic audience. Not FATF. Because decisions in FATF
preliminaries (held three times in a year) are taken on the basis of a
consensus that rules out a decisive role for any particular nation in
shaping the outcome. But a grey listed country even with poor
compliance cannot be moved to the more severe black list if it is
opposed by three members.
A case for shifting Pakistan to the black list has always looked strong
but Turkey’s slide into the grey list deprives Pakistan of a vital
support. The only other steadfast supporters of Pakistan left in FATF
are China and Mongolia. And unless Pakistan is able to get support
of a third member, it will find it difficult to avoid black listing, should
FATF conclude at its preliminary in March-April next year that
Pakistan deserves the worst.
A FATF black list will be a more stringent form of punishment for
economically wobbly and cash-strapped Pakistan. It will choke
whatever financial aid Pakistan has been receiving from the outside
world, including international financial institutions. The ball is truly
in the court of Imran Khan who has pledged to turn Pakistan into
“Riyasat-e-Madina” – an Islamic welfare state like the state of
Turkey’s inclusion in the grey list was not all that surprising as some
seem to think. Way back in 2019, the country was warned by FATF
to take some serious steps to halt money laundering and asset
holdings by Islamist terror organisations and designated terrorists.
President Tayyip Erdogan, an authoritarian and hardline Islamist,
paid no heed.
He is already on way to destroying Turkey’s secular character and
undermining democracy, arresting dissenters and even sacking
advisers who disagreed with him. He has embarked on a journey to
establish himself as a top leader of the Islamic world. He started
acting and behaving like a spokesman of nuclear-armed and roguish
Pakistan on its differences with India and, particularly, the Kashmir
issue. Erdogan is the first Turkish leader who regularly rakes up the
Kashmir issue at international forums, accusing India of suppressing
the Muslims in that state, mistakenly assuming that he can sway
The Turkish president’s criticism of India naturally makes him a
darling of the Pakistani elite and jihadi Islamists but he has lowered
the prestige of his country by pursuing dictatorial and fundamentalist
policies and relentless tirade against the minority populations,
especially the Kurds who cannot teach or learn their language. He
can also take the credit for pushing down Turkey’s once vibrant
economy that had transformed it into a developed nation. A
prolonged stay in the grey list would make things only worse for
Turkey. Like for Pakistan!