A report in the Wall Street Journal(WSJ) said three countries – China, Saudi Arabia and Turkey blocked the US efforts to place Pakistan on the Financial Action Task Force(FATF) watchlist.
WSJ in its report asserted that it was one of the “rare disagreements” between Saudi Arabia and the Trump administration. Saudi Arabia is America’s principal ally in the Gulf, however, this time the newspaper said it “acted on on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)”.
Pakistan is currently in the process of finalising a free trade agreement(FTA) with GCC nations. The agreement if it goes through will allow Pakistan to find new markets in the Gulf for rice, meat, fruits etc.
The United States had put forward a motion to place Pakistan on the global terrorist financing watchlist at the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) meeting in Paris. FATF is an international inter-governmental body tasked with countering money laundering and terrorist financing.
“The officials said the US effort, which included pressure on the Saudis, raised the possibility of a fresh vote on action against Pakistan as soon as Thursday. The Pakistanis were scrambling to shore up support,” the WSJ report said.
Pakistan’s economy would have been hit badly had it been placed in the terror financing list. The move would have led international lenders to back out of Pakistan.
China has invested heavily in various projects in Pakistan through the One Belt, One Road(OBOR) project and has been keen to protect Pakistan’s interests, Turkey too is a long-time ally of Pakistan helped to tide over the FATF hurdle.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said after the meeting that Pakistan has been given a three-month reprieve by the global watchdog.
Pakistan was on the FATF watchlist from 2012 to 2015.