‘Pakistan can get off FATF grey list within two years’

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If seen in the context of the relations between Pakistan and the United States, the former can overcome the challenge of getting off the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) within two years, claimed Dr. Nausheen Wasi of the University of Karachi on Thursday.

The assistant professor at KU’s Department of International Relations was responding to a question by a student during a session on ‘Contemporary Economic and Security Issues in Pakistan with FATF in Focus’.

Dr Nausheen stressed that the country needs to improve its institutional mechanism. She said FATF policies are being used to put pressure on Pakistan more to curb terror financing rather than money laundering. She claimed that India, Afghanistan and the US are lobbying for this. She said Pakistan needs to mend its relations with neighboring Afghanistan, and that it depends on the country’s relations with India, especially focusing on the Kashmir issue.

“We need to change the perception that India is our enemy,” she said, emphasizing that international actors are willing and can help in doing so. She also said the country’s economy is not better enough to sustain the tax reforms.

“To fulfill the FATF’s requirements, we must cut our non-developmental budget,” she explained, referring to the science & technology budget of $600 million, of which $200 million is for development and the rest for non-developmental projects. Economist Dr Kaiser Bengali said during the session that Pakistan should first have a finance minister whose roots are in the country, unlike the current one.

Dr Bengali claimed that former finance minister Asad Umer would have done something if he had not been removed only to be replaced with an “imported” person. He said that secondly, industries must be strengthened because they are the spine of the economy.

“The government should reduce the sales tax by 5 per cent and cut the non-developmental budget by Rs1 trillion,” he said, urging that the country must create an environment that is viable for business. He stressed that the people should also be responsible with their purchases.

“One in three children in Pakistan is malnourished, but we have imported cat food available in our stores and people are buying it,” he said.

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