Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said that Pakistan has made an effective strategy and is lobbying with the member states to block India’s bid to get Pakistan blacklisted by Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which is currently meeting in Orlando, the United States, for its working group and plenary meetings (June 16-21, 2019).
Talking to the media here on Thursday, Qureshi said that he had appraised US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt about the measures undertaken by the government of Pakistan in compliance with the FATF to prevent money laundering and terror financing.
He said that he had telephonic conversation with Pompeo on June 17 and exchanged views on Pakistan’s action taken in line with the FATF’s action plan, besides discussing other issues of mutual interests, including the Afghan peace process.
Qureshi, who just concluded his UK’s visit, maintained that the role of the British government is ‘positive’ in the FATF, adding that it is the priority of both the governments to prevent money laundering.
“I was pleased to see in my interaction with the British authorities including British Foreign Secretary Hunt that Britain gives much importance to its relations with Pakistan…its role in the FATF is positive. I shared with the British secretary the actions taken by Pakistan,” he said, adding that preventing money laundering is not only the FATF requirement, but also among the top priorities of both the governments.
Earlier last year, Pakistan was referred to the FATF on the motion jointly moved by the US, UK, France and Germany to place the country on its list for the alleged insufficient measures to prevent money laundering and terror financing.
To a question, Qureshi, in a reference to India, said that a neighbouring country has a stated policy to get Pakistan blacklisted in the FATF. “But we are making efforts to thwart the move and an effective strategy has already been made to block any such effort…we should be confident that we are fighting Pakistan’s case in an effective way,” Qureshi further said.
He said that Pakistan is also making efforts at diplomatic level to get it out of the FATF’s grey list. However, he said that there are more actions to be taken including by the provinces.
Asked whether issue of extradition of certain Pakistanis including former Finance Minister Ishaq Dar was also discussed with the British authorities, the foreign minister said that the extradition treaty between the two countries is at the final stage, adding that the British government has reservations over the capital punishment.
However, he said that it has been made clear that the capital punishment will not be applicable on those Pakistanis extradited to the country under the treaty. “As far as the case of former Finance Minister Muhammad Ishaq Dar is concerned, he is wanted [to the courts] and he should face the courts and due opportunity will be given to him to explain his position,” he said.
About MQM’s founder Altaf Hussain, he said that his case is with the British court and he is currently on bail and would again appear before the court in July.
Qureshi further said that he visited Britain on the invitation of the British foreign secretary for the 4th review of Pakistan-UK Enhanced Strategic Dialogue (ESD) held on June 19, which had been due since 2018.
He said that the dialogue is an institutional mechanism between the two countries to further deepen bilateral relations in the areas of trade and investment, security, education and cultural cooperation.
About the upcoming visit of Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, he said that the Qatari Emir will visit Pakistan from June 22-23, adding that Qatar is a friendly country and there are a lot of opportunities for cooperation and investment.
Interestingly, the foreign minister described the claims made by Prime Minister Imran Khan and Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid as speculative that Qatari Emir will announce $ 22 billion investment during his visit to the country. “He [Qatari Emir] will be on June 22 and 23, but as far as the figure [of investment] being quoted in the media is concerned, it is just speculative,” he added.
Prime Minister Khan, on his official and verified Instagram account, had said: “Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani will visit Pakistan on June 23, Qatar has announced to invest $22 billion in different sectors of Pakistan.”
About the visit of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Qureshi said that the Afghan president will be visiting Pakistan on June 27, which he described as a welcoming development in the bilateral relations between the two countries.
He said that during the last many days, the relations between the two countries have improved which will help remove the misunderstandings. He said that it is mutually beneficial for both the neighbouring countries to improve the bilateral relations. About the expected move by the opposition parties to remove Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani, Qureshi said that any such move will not send a positive message to the people of Balochistan.