Pakistan has been put on the grey list by the global financial task force - FATF. The decision was taken during the FATF meeting on February 22. At every FATF meeting, the Indian delegation made concerted efforts to prove Pak's nexus with funding terrorism

by Geeta Mohan

Despite all the efforts and diplomatic outreach, Pakistan has been put on the grey list by the global financial task force - FATF (Financial Action Task Force).

While the decision has been taken, Pakistan's name will only be included in the compliance list in the next plenary in June after Pakistan works with FATF on a comprehensive action plan to stop terror funding. If Pakistan fails to do so, it could be blacklisted rather than put on the grey list.

The decision was taken during the FATF meeting on February 22. Pakistan's name figured in the Chairman's summary prepared by the current President (Argentinian).

FATF's proceedings are carried out in secrecy and hence FATF decided not to mention Pakistan's name in the Chairman's summary.

Now, Pakistan's name will be included in the June list after all the procedures are over.

While Pakistan initially denied the reports, the Finance Minister of Pakistan and Pakistan Foreign Office finally accepted the action which comes as a major blow to Pakistan.

Hard diplomacy and fortuitous timing helped India's case.

India has been working on this for a while now. At every FATF meeting, the Indian delegation made concerted efforts to prove the nexus between financial systems within Pakistan that abet and support terrorism.

Hafiz Saeed, Masood Azhar - their actions, their presence and support from the establishment have been highlighted at various meetings and detailed reports submitted.

But, when it comes to getting Pakistan or any nation on the compliance lists, it takes hard diplomacy and negotiations since the decisions work on a consensus basis and the consensus is decided by the President. There are no rules.

While it is considered that three votes against a motion would break consensus, there have been cases such as Syria where despite eight votes against the motion, it was put on the compliance list by the President.

In Pakistan's case, during the initial ICRG (International Cooperation Review Group) round there were three countries who voted against the motion of grey listing Pakistan - China, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Russia and GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) nations expressed reservations and thought the action was a bit premature.

But what worked in India's favour at the next meeting of the APG (Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering) was fortuitous timing.

There were a few things being played out in parallel. One was the discussion on compliance list and the other was the negotiations that were underway for the election of the next Vice Chairman.

While China sided with Pakistan all along, it also has been pushing to become the Vice Chairman when the seat falls vacant. America is the current Vice Chairman of FATF.

China comes up for its country evaluation in 2019 by the global watchdog when the Presidency would be in the hands of US. To ensure that Chinese interests are protected, they want to hold the vice-chairmanship.

India Today has learned that there were two nominations for the post of Vice Chairman, China, and Japan. The United States was keen on Japan. India's single focus was to get Pakistan on the grey list so the negotiators sent a message across to the Chinese that if they don't vote in favour of India then there will be no support from India.

The Russians were going to back China and US to back Japan. With opinion divided, China wanted to draw consensus and worked out a deal of not opposing the move against Pakistan. Saudi Arabia was worked out by the Americans and India engaged the Russians.

When the discussions began, the Russians realised that the Chinese are dissenting and hence decided to not raise any objection. Saudi's followed suit.

The only country that maintained its earlier position was Turkey that came out in support of Pakistan.

During the nominations of the Vice President, the current President only named China as a nominee which was adopted by all. The United States did not oppose the move because it learned that there would be no takers and they would be left isolated opposing China's candidature.

For India, it ensures protection of her interests if there is an American President and a Chinese Vice President and later when the Chinese take over as President then to have Japanese as the Vice President to maintain the strategic and diplomatic equilibrium.

For Pakistan, to be grey listed is a huge diplomatic loss more than anything else. It tried to take some serious steps against elements such as Hafiz Saeed's Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jamat-ud-Dawah (JuD), FIF (Falah-e-Insaniyat) but that didn't convince the international watchdog.

While greylisting could squeeze Pakistan's economy and make it harder for Pakistan to gain foreign financial support and could impact Pakistan's international financial ratings, how much of it will help pressure Pakistan to stop state support for these terror groups and a responsible nation is yet to be seen since Pakistan was on the FATF grey list from 2012 to 2015, a period during which it successfully carried out many international projects.