ISLAMABAD - Pakistan yesterday urged the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to take notice of New Delhi’s smear campaign against Islamabad, and strongly rejected Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s comments that FATF can any time blacklist Pakistan.

In a statement issued here, Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammed Faisal said broader FATF membership should take cognizance of India’s continuing malicious campaign against Pakistan and reject any attempt aimed at politicizing FATF proceedings.

Dr Faisal said the statement of the Indian minister “reinforces Pakistan’s concerns about Indian attempts to politicize the FATF proceedings to further its narrow partisan objectives.”

He said India’s “incessant smear” against Pakistan and blatant partisanship also calls into question its credentials to be co-chair of the Asia-Pacific Joint Group that reviews Pakistan’s progress to implement the FATF Action Plan.

The spokesperson said, “Our concerns in this regard have been previously brought to the attention of FATF members.” Dr Faisal said it is important for FATF to “ensure that the process remains fair and unbiased.”

Almost a week before the FATF meeting to evaluate Pakistan’s compliance with the set parameters, the Asia-Pacific Group has released its report suggesting Pakistan to improve its understanding of money laundering and terror financing risks.

The AGP’s ‘Mutual Evaluation Report 2019’ would provide a basis for the FATF to make its decision in its upcoming Paris meeting scheduled for October 13-18, keeping in view Pakistan’s compliance with the parameters it had set earlier.

Following the APG report, chances are high that Pakistan would be retained on the grey list during the FATF plenary meetings.

Last month, a high-level Pakistani delegation, led by Economic Affairs Minister Hammad Azhar, had attended a two-day meeting with the APG to discuss Islamabad’s progress on the FATF action plan.

Experts have warned Pakistan remains at risk of being placed on the “blacklist” of FATF - a global watchdog monitoring terror financing and money laundering around the world.

The final decision as to whether the country would be placed on the so-called blacklist is pending until the APG presents its final report to the FATF Plenary and Working Group meetings scheduled for later this month in Paris.

With a final decision ahead, some experts warn the stakes are high for Pakistan to be placed in the black list given the country’s lack of notable progress on key demands of the FATF.

“Since no major decisions are made until October, Islamabad must know that no matter what happened in Bangkok, it’s not out of the woods yet,” Michael Kugleman, deputy director of South Asia Program at the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson Center, said.

“It’s hard to know what transpired in Bangkok, or whether it helped or hindered Pakistan’s prospects for getting relief at the important Paris meeting in October,” Kugleman added.

Pakistan continues to defend its efforts of combating terror groups and their financial networks, emphasizing it takes quite seriously FATF requirements and the fight against terrorism.

“The Pakistan delegation effectively presented Pakistan’s progress on each of the FATF action plan items and provided additional information/clarification to the APG-Joint Group,” Hammad Azhar, Minister for Economic Affairs Division, had said this following APG’s meeting in Bangkok.