Saudi Arabia to call OIC meeting on Kashmir in Islamabad, says envoy

The Saudi Shoura Council delegation meets with members of the Saudi-Pakistani Parliamentary Friendship Committee in Islamabad on Dec. 5, 2019. (AN photo)
Updated 05 December 2019

Saudi Arabia to call OIC meeting on Kashmir in Islamabad, says envoy

  • The Kingdom will sign an MoU with Pakistan to strengthen relations between their parliaments in Riyadh later this month
  • Pakistanis apprise the visiting Saudis about investment opportunities in their country

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Arabia will help Pakistan arrange the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s meeting on Kashmir in Islamabad, said the Kingdom’s envoy to the country, Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki, while giving an exclusive interview to Arab News on Thursday.
“The case of Kashmir is very important and the chairman of Saudi Shoura Council, Dr. Abdullah Bin Mohammed Al-Sheikh, has called for an OIC conference on Kashmir in Pakistan,” Al-Malki said.
“The delegation of the Saudi Shoura Council met with the Saudi-Pakistani Parliamentary Friendship Committee before interacting with the speaker of Pakistan’s National Assembly and the chairman of the Senate,” the Saudi envoy continued while informing that the delegation had discussed economic relations between the two brotherly countries.
Al-Malki said the speaker of Pakistan’s National Assembly would travel to Saudi Arabia on a reciprocal visit by the end of the month.
One of the members of the Saudi delegation, Osama Abdul Aziz Al Rabiah, said the two sides had discussed ways and means to strengthen relations between the Saudi Shoura Council and the National Assembly of Pakistan.
“We have agreed to sign an MoU [Memorandum of Understanding] to strengthen relations between the two countries’ parliaments during the upcoming visit of National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser to Saudi Arabia later this month,” he told Arab News while reiterating that Saudi Arabia would not only attend but also support Pakistan with the OIC meeting on Kashmir in Islamabad.
“We have also been informed about many business opportunities in Pakistan which we will share with Saudi companies,” he added while praising expat Pakistanis in his country by saying: “Saudis give special respect to the Pakistani community in the Kingdom.”
The Pakistani convener of the parliamentary friendship group, Muhammad Ibrahim Khan, said both sides had discussed several areas of cooperation, but special focus remained on investment opportunities in Pakistan in the fields of tourism, infrastructure development, agriculture and other businesses.
“We had informative meetings with the delegation. We have shared with its members details of improved security situation in Pakistan and how it has increased business opportunities in the country,” Khan told Arab News, adding: “We have discussed the Kashmir issue in detail and they gave us a very strong response by saying that Saudi Arabia was ready to help Pakistan on the issue, whether it was in the international arena or anywhere else. This was very encouraging for us.”

Pakistan gets lifeline till Feb 2021 as FATF continues to keep it on grey list

Updated 23 October 2020

Pakistan gets lifeline till Feb 2021 as FATF continues to keep it on grey list

  • The country has completed 21 out of 27 items of the global financial watchdog’s action plan, acknowledges FATF officials
  • The government of Pakistan has signaled the commitment to complete the rest of the action plan, says the FATF president

KARACHI: The global financial watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), decided on Friday to keep Pakistan on its “grey list” while acknowledging that the country had made significant progress in meeting international anti-terrorism financing norms and should not be downgraded to the “blacklist.”

The FATF began its virtual plenary meeting on October 21 under the first two-year German presidency of Dr Marcus Pleyer.

“Pakistan will remain our increased monitoring list,” he announced after the end of the conference. “The plenary recognizes that Pakistan has made progress. The government has now completed 21 out of 27 items of its action plan. The government of Pakistan has signaled the commitment to complete the rest of its action plan.”

“Even though Pakistan has made progress it needs to do more,” he continued. “It cannot stop now and needs to carry out reforms in particular to implement targeted financial sanctions and prosecuting sanctions financing terrorism.”

Responding to a question, the FATF president said that onsite inspection would be carried out after the next plenary in February 2021 to decide about Pakistan’s exclusion from the grey list.

Pakistan was placed on the list of countries with inadequate controls over terrorism financing by the FATF in June 2018.

The Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG), an inter-governmental organization in the Asia-Pacific region, issued the first Follow Up Report (FUR) on Pakistan last month.

The report reflected the country’s performance until February 2020 and noted that it had complied with only two recommendations related to financial institution secrecy laws and financial intelligence units out of 40 recommendations on the effectiveness of anti-money laundering and combating financing terror (AML/CFT) system.

However, Pakistan managed to pass three crucial FATF-related laws during a joint session of parliament in September this year. With these laws, the country managed to comply with most of the legislation required by the international watchdog to strength the country’s financial system.

The FATF “strongly” urged Pakistan in February this year to complete its full action plan by June 2020, warning it would take action against the country which could include advising financial institutions to give special attention to business relations and transactions with Pakistan. Later, the deadline was extended and the country was given time until October 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pakistan also punished Hafiz Saeed, a Jamaat-ud-Dawa leader, in a terror financing case and decided to send him to prison for five and a half years.

Commenting on the FATF decision, financial experts said the decision to keep Pakistan on grey list owed to the government’s hasty legislation.

“The most vital issue relates to the roles assigned to the AML-CFT authority and self-regulatory bodies. These laws give powers to regulate AML-CFT to various government and professional bodies. They were not carefully drafted, create conflict of interest, and are complicated and ambiguous,” Dr Ikram ul Haq, a Lahore-based senior economist, said after the FATF decision.

The FATF blacklist have international pariah states like Iran and North Korea, and these countries are shunned by international financial institutions.