A spectre has haunted Pakistan, and despite countless efforts to comply with its demands, it doesn’t seem to go away. That ghost is the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), whose 15-member team quietly concluded a five-day visit to Pakistan this week. The findings of the 15-member FATF team would be discussed and reviewed in the next meeting of FATF, scheduled in Paris in October.

While this visit may be unnecessary, considering Pakistan has demonstrated countlessly over the past few years how well it has complied with FATF, it is welcome news since Pakistan does not have anything to hide, and we want to leave no stone unturned to exit the grey list. In the three years since 2018, when we were placed on the grey list, Pakistan has addressed 26 out of 27 items on the original action plan. The country has completed four of the seven items on the recent 2021 action plan, complying well with the timelines prescribed by the FATF.

Pakistan has taken a wide range of steps to comply with FATF, including introducing amendments in the Mutual Legal Assistance Act, 2020, AML/CFT, transparency of beneficial ownership information and implementation of targeted financial sanctions for proliferation finance by DNFBPs. This progress was appreciated by FATF itself, which in a statement, acknowledged Pakistan’s continued political commitment, recognising that it led to significant progress across a comprehensive CFT action plan. The IMF has also acknowledged Pakistan’s progress on the AML/CFT regime. However, despite all this effort, FATF has consistently disappointed in elevating Pakistan out of the grey list, unnecessarily delaying the process.

The visit was kept under wraps, but sources said the FATF delegation held meetings with the relevant authorities and verified the steps Pakistan had taken to fulfil the condition of the international financial watchdog on money laundering and terror financing. The hope is that a positive decision is announced in October. Removal from the list will improve investor confidence and will help give impetus to the country’s struggling economy.