Afghanistan’s top negotiator arrives in Pakistan to discuss peace process

Afghanistan’s top peace negotiator Dr. Abdullah Abdullah poses with Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in Islamabad on September 28, 2020. (Photo Courtesy: Pakistan's Foreign Office)
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Updated 28 September 2020

Afghanistan’s top negotiator arrives in Pakistan to discuss peace process

  • Abdullah is expected to hold talks with PM Khan, President Alvi and senior officials during his three-day visit
  • There are “indications” that Islamabad wants to help in the peace process, official says

ISLAMABAD: Afghanistan’s top peace negotiator arrived in Islamabad on Monday to strengthen bilateral ties and “seek Pakistan’s help” in facilitating the peace process, officials told Arab News.
Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, who is chairman of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation (AHCNR), is expected to meet Prime Minister Imran Khan, President Arif Alvi, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, and lawmakers during his three-day visit to the country.
“This is an important visit. Pakistan can do a lot in facilitation of the peace talks. Pakistan helped the United States in the process, and the Taliban and the US signed the agreement. There are indications that Pakistan wants to help in the peace process,” Mohammad Umer Daudzai, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s Special Envoy for Pakistan told Arab News from Kabul on Monday.
Abdullah’s schedule on Monday includes a meeting with FM Qureshi, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar and a key-note address at the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad, a statement by Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said.
“The visit will provide an opportunity for wide-ranging exchange of views on the Afghan peace process and strengthening of Pakistan-Afghanistan bilateral relations and people-to-people interaction,” it added.
In a series of tweets on Monday, Abdullah said that the visit – his first since assuming office as the AHCNR chief – will “provide a unique opportunity for the two sides to exchange views on Afghanistan peace talks in Doha, & bilateral relations.”
“I hope this visit will open a new chapter of mutual cooperation at all levels, especially on achieving a lasting and dignified peace in AFG (Afghanistan),” he added.


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.