Daily Briefs

Photo : Dawn

13 October 2020, Tuesday I Vol 1, No.157

Pakistan and the FATF's Grey List

The latest report by the Asia Pacific Group on Pakistan's progress relating to the FATF grey list; the TikTok ban in Pakistan; resignation of Lt Gen Bajwa from the Special Assistant to PM.

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

In Focus
Pakistan and the FATF's Grey List:
Asia-Pacific Group retains Pakistan on its "Enhanced Follow-Up" list

On 25 September, the Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) a regional affiliate of the Paris-based FATF has decided to keep Pakistan on its "Enhanced (expedited) follow-up" list for minimum progress on technical recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The first Follow-Up Report (FUR) on Mutual Evaluation of Pakistan released by APG showed that the country was improving its full compliance on two of the 40 FATF recommendations on the effectiveness of anti-money laundering and combating financing terror (AML/CFT) system. The report stated that "Pakistan will remain in enhanced (expedited) follow up, and will continue to report back to the APG on progress to strengthen its implementation of AML/CFT measures." (Khaleeq Kiani, "Asia-Pacific Group keeps Pakistan on enhanced follow-up list," Dawn, 12 October 2020)

Pakistan's progress largely remains unchanged
The report states that although Pakistan's progress largely remained unchanged, it remains non-compliant on four counts, partially compliant on 25 counts and largely compliant on nine recommendations. However, overall progress was made in addressing the technical compliance deficiencies, identified in its mutual evaluation report and has been re-rated on one recommendation.

Based on the progress, Recommendation 29 has been re-rated to 'compliant'. While progress has been made on Recommendation 1, it is insufficient to justify a re-rating. The analysis and rating for Recommendation 6 are subject to a major disagreement and consistent with the APG Mutual Evaluation procedures, consideration of this Recommendation has been referred for in-session discussion at the next APG Plenary meeting and is not considered in this report. ("1st Follow-Up Report Mutual Evaluation of Pakistan," Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering, 25 September 2020)

APG Report has no immediate bearing on the upcoming FATF assessment 
Although the APG report comes a couple of weeks before the FATF's virtual review meeting which is scheduled to be held from later this month there is no effect went it comes to assess if Pakistan should be kept or moved out of the grey list. The APG's performance review is based on the country's performance as of February 2020 on technical recommendations.

Recent developments
In the Mutual Evaluation Report which was published in October 2019, Pakistan was compliant on one, non-compliant on four, partially compliant on 26 and largely compliant on nine recommendations. The only change is on the one partially compliant recommendation to compliant status. Pakistan had requested for re-ratings on three areas declared partially compliant by the APG in October last year, however, the request was accepted on one count and rejected on two due to 'insufficient' progress to the satisfaction of international experts.

Later in August, the APG adopted its third Mutual Evaluation Report on Pakistan during the meetings in Canberra, Australia where it downgraded the country to "Enhanced Follow-up" category over technical deficiencies to meet normal international financial standards by October 2018. Following which the country has had to submit quarterly progress reports, instead of biannual, to the APG, to show improvements in its technical standards on AML/CFT.

Pakistan to be on FATF white list soon says FM Qureshi
On 10 October, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi while criticising the opposition and their failed attempts to thwart the FATF legislations stated that Pakistan would participate in the virtual meeting on the FATF to be held in Paris, adding that he hopes that Pakistan would be on the white list of the FATF soon. Further, he said America and some other countries would support Pakistan on FATF. ("Pakistan to be on FATF white list soon: FM Shah Mehmood Qureshi," The News International, 12 October 2020)

Editorials say FATF must take Pakistan off the grey list, however, Islamabad needs to step up its efforts
An editorial in the Nation while highlighting the country's effort and progress to contain money laundering and terrorist financial channels to counter extremist activity states that the FATF must look to this in its upcoming review process. Further, it states that Pakistan's inclusion in the grey list is a gross misrepresentation adding that the narrative of Pakistan being home to terrorists is at least a decade old. Thus, the FATF decision must reflect the reality of today adding that it must remove the country from its grey list. ("APG Report," The Nation, 13 October 2020)

An editorial in the Dawn states that although it is time for the world to commended Pakistan for its efforts and the willingness of the country's leadership to comply with the FATF's mandate, Islamabad needs to be more transparent and increase its efforts to create a stronger legal framework, which is at par with global AML/CFT standards and FATF requirements. By doing this, they would clear up concerns that some of the recent changes are meant to run down the opposition leadership rather than meet the FATF's demands. ("More progress needed," Dawn, 13 October 2020)

TikTok is banned in Pakistan
Senate Committee wants the govt to take corrective measures instead of adopting the 'isolationist' approach
Image Source: Dawn


On 12 October, the Senate Committee on Delegated Legislation criticised the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) for banning TikTok. The committee noted that Pakistan must advance according to global development and take corrective measures instead of adopting the isolationist approach. (Kalbe Ali, "Senate committee slams blanket ban on TikTok," Dawn, 13 October 2020) This came after the PTA banned TikTok on 9 October after several warnings as different sections of society continued complaining against indecent and immoral content on the Chinese app. ("Pakistan slaps ban on TikTok over 'indecent content'," Dawn, 10 October 2020)

Blanket ban not the solution to address questionable content
The committee upheld that blocking of social media platforms and restricting IT companies was not the solution when it comes to keeping a check the spread of questionable material. Further, adding that such approaches by the regulator would push Pakistan off the development trend, adding that it is necessary to regulate content if that was violating the laws of the country instead of imposing a blanket ban on the whole application or platform. 

An editorial asks why is moral policing a top priority
An editorial in the Dawn critical of the TikTok asks when there are numerous political and economic challenges, why is moral policing a top priority? The editorial goes on to state that this move to ban such platforms betrays paranoia and ignorance, adding that besides going against the promise of a 'digital Pakistan', it undermines the government's pledges about giving opportunities to young people. The editorial stated that this ban will upset the several users who use their social media following to generate revenue through ads, further, it would possibly encourage more government bans and restrictions in the future. ("TikTok ban," Dawn, 11 October 2020)

PTA's earlier decisions to block/ban apps
On 1 September, PTA blocked five datings and live streaming applications including the popular Tinder app on the account of "immoral content," The four other apps blocked by the authority were Tagged, Skout, Grindr and SayHi. The PTA stated, "keeping in view the negative effects of immoral/indecent content streaming through the above applications", it had issued notices to the five platforms' management, asking them to remove "dating services" and moderate live streaming content "in accordance with the local laws of Pakistan," adding, "since the platforms did not respond to the notices within the stipulated time, therefore, the authority issued orders for blocking of the said applications." Earlier in June, the authority had also banned online game PlayerUnknown's Battle Ground (PUBG) temporarily, citing complaints about it being "addictive", a waste of time and its potential negative impact on children's physical and psychological health. (Javed Hussain, "PTA bans five dating apps including Tinder citing 'immoral content'," Dawn, 1 September 2020)

PM accepts Lt Gen (retd) Asim Bajwa's resignation
However, Bajwa will continue as the Chairman of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority.
Image Source: Express Tribune


On 12 October, Prime Minister Imran Khan accepted retired Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa's resignation from the additional post of special assistant to prime minister on information and broadcasting that he had submitted in September following allegations regarding his family's offshore businesses and assets. Bajwa will continue as the chairman of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority.

Quick recap
In August 2020, journalist Ahmed Noorani accused Bajwa of using his political portfolio to set up off-shore businesses for his family on a website. After remaining silent for over a week, Bajwa denied the allegations, stating they were "incorrect and false", and announced his decision to resign from the SAPM post. Opposition parties opined that Bajwa face the allegations and demanded his resignation through the 26-point declaration issued after the multiparty conference. The latter said he was ready to present all related documents before any judicial forum. 

Imran Khan had initially refused to accept Bajwa's resignation and relinquish him from the duties of the SAPM. PTI's official account had also quoted Imran expressing satisfaction with evidence provided by Bajwa regarding the assets and businesses.

"I requested the honourable prime minister to relinquish me from the additional portfolio of SAPM on Info and broadcasting. He very kindly approved my request," Bajwa tweeted. ("Under-fire SAPM quits after resignation accepted," Dawn, 13 October 2020)

In Brief
PM terms Opposition a 'gang of dacoits'
On 12 October, Imran Khan directed the authorities concerned to allow the Pakistan Democratic Movement's public gathering on 16 October. According to Dawn's source, Imran called the Opposition alliance "a gang of dacoits" starting an anti-government campaign to hide its corruption. He also said the public would judge for themselves how 'strong' the opposition was. On the other hand, PML-N Information Secretary said Imran's statement of allowing the opposition to hold its public gathering was a "desperate attempt" to mask his embarrassment. Meanwhile, the Minister for Planning and Development appealed to the Opposition to avoid holding huge gatherings as Covid-19 cases are on the rise. ("'Gang of dacoits' out to hide its corruption, says Imran," Dawn, 13 October 2020)

Imran Khan warns of covid-19 surge in winter
On 12 October, Imran Khan said that from the facts and figures from different countries established that during the winter season, coronavirus infection could spread. He reiterated that provincial governments should take steps in that regard and devise a strategy. In his meeting with the NCOC, Imran noted that smart lockdown is being enforced in different areas of Karachi, Islamabad, and "Azad Jammu and Kashmir." ("Covid-19 may spread in winter, cautions PM," The Nation, 13 October 2020)

Opinion articles on the PDM and the Maulana
An opinion article in The News International says the PDM needs to have a pro-people agenda instead of just holding sustained campaigns against politicians and massive corruption which have damaged the reputation of national leaders. The author says people want to know if members of the PDM have concrete plans for economic revival or if they will also offer the panacea of privatization, liberalization and deregulation. He says people would want those who demand fair elections in the country to have the same in their own political parties, as well as a solemn pledge to devolve powers to local bodies and end dynastic politics. ("A pro-people agenda for PDM," The News International, 13 October 2020)

Another opinion article in The News International highlights that Maulana is an undisputed leader of the opposition today. The author says Maulana owns the street power and last year he successfully delivered a blow to the government when the rest of the Opposition was weak. The author says, provided other parties stay loyal to him, Maulana can deliver another blow to the government. The author says: "Maulana's madrassas are indestructible. There is no prison large enough to hold him and his followers. No political party can hurl defiance at the system the way he can. His crowd is the ulema – who can't be beaten and insulted like everyone else, and they can hit back at the government the way no other group can." ("The autumn of discontent," The News International, 13 October 2020)

Remittances surpass September target
On 12 October, remittance inflows for September rose to $2.3 billion surpassing the $2 billion target. According to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), the figure is 31.2 per cent higher than September last year and 9 per cent higher than last month. Remittances from the UAE increased to $1.4 billion and from the UK to $985.5 million compared to $574.5 million in the corresponding period last year. According to analysts, remittances witnessed a consistent rise because of: the decline in the use of the unofficial hundi and hawala channels amid crackdown on illegal sources, and limited travel of overseas Pakistanis to the country due to pandemic brought in remittances mostly through legal sources. Analysts warned this may be a short term trend as expatriates may experience salary cuts and unemployment due to the pandemic. ("Remittances surpass target to reach at $2.3bln in Sept," The News International, 13 October 2020)

Editorial calls WFP a truly worthy Nobel Prize winner
An editorial in The News International says the World Food Programme is truly worthy of winning the Nobel Peace Prize as it draws the world's attention to hunger and needs to address it. The editorial says climate change, conflict and now the Covid-19 pandemic have made things even worse for people suffering from hunger. It highlights that while Pakistan has a surplus amount of wheat for most years, there has been a growth in hunger since 2018 because people do not have the cash to access this food. About 18 per cent of children under the age of five are severely malnourished, and 40 per cent suffer stunting or an inability to reach the expected height for their age. The editorial appreciates the WFP's role in Pakistan during the earthquake of 2008 in "Azad Kashmir" and KP. ("Food on the table," The News International, 13 October 2020)

Israel too deeply invested in Palestine
An opinion column in The Nation says that Israelis and Palestinians analysts are both "wildly wrong," in their commentaries. The author says Israelis consider the current scenarios as "beginning of the end of the Israeli-Arab conflict" and Palestinian commentators lament "the burying of Palestine." He says Israel may have had a chance to negotiate a just two-state solution after the Oslo and Arab Initiative but they chose to engulf the Palestinian nation. He says, while a two-state solution may not materialise now, Israel is deeply invested in the occupied lands to extricate themselves. Israel depends on the Palestinian Authority's cooperation for security and administrative matters and on Palestinian labour. He says, the Palestinians' demand for equal rights and justice may come as a slow and steady process but it will come. ("The future of Israel and Palestine," The Nation, 13 October 2020)

Editorial says India hinders South Asia's growth
An editorial in Daily Times says that the political landscape of South Asia is changing. The editorial says China's planning and growth contributed to the revival of the region's ancient trade route and its relation with Pakistan helps shape this. It says the US and its relations with India are the spoilers in this scenario. In the course of containing China, the US is using India and India, in turn, hit the Chinese and also discredits Pakistan. The editorial urges Pakistan "keep their eye on the ball and make sure nothing interrupts BRI or the CPEC to defeat any form of propaganda." ("South Asia is changing," Daily Times, 13 October 2020)

India should consider a course correction: Pak Foreign Office
On 12 October, Pakistan rejected Rajanth Singh's "unwarranted and irresponsible" claims that Pakistan and China were deliberately creating border disputes with India. The Foreign Office spokesperson said Rajnath Singh's statement "demonstrates an inexcusable lack of self-awareness of RSS-BJP regime's self-serving narrative. It is also another manifestation of the Indian government's incurable obsession with Pakistan." He also condemned "the malicious Indian propaganda against the long-standing, close Pakistan-China friendship." He said instead of jeopardising regional peace and stability, by perpetrating state-terrorism to advance its extremist Hindutva ideology and expansionist Akhand Bharat designs, India should consider course correction and peacefully resolve disputes with neighbours. ("Indian allegation China-Pakistan creating border disputes rejected," Dawn, 13 October 2020)


"...it is time for the world to appreciate Pakistan’s efforts and the willingness of the country’s leadership to do more to comply with the FATF’s mandate so that Pakistan can be removed from the grey list. At the same time, Islamabad must be more transparent and step up its efforts to create a stronger legal framework, which is at par with global AML/CFT standards and FATF requirements.”

 Editorial in Dawn, on the measures adopted by Pakistan to fulfil the FATF requirements to get the country out of the grey list.

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