Pakistan has been removed from an international terrorism-financing watch list, the head of the international organization that makes the list said.
The decision was announced on October 21 at the end of a two-day meeting in Paris of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) at which the organization removed Pakistan from its so-called "gray list" of countries that do not take full measures to combat money laundering and terrorism financing.
The FATF welcomed “Pakistan’s significant progress in improving" its anti-money laundering and counterterrorism financing policies.
Pakistan has addressed “technical deficiencies to meet the commitments of its action plans regarding strategic deficiencies that the FATF identified in June 2018 and June 2021," FATF President T. Raja Kumar told a news conference.
The announcement means Pakistan will no longer be subject to increased monitoring by the FATF.
The FATF said in June that it was keeping Pakistan on the so-called "gray list" of countries that do not take full measures to combat money laundering and terrorism financing. But it said at the time that it might be removed after an on-site visit to verify progress.
Pakistan was listed in 2018 because of "strategic counterterrorist financing-related deficiencies."
Countries on the watchdog’s list can see investors scared away and banks wary of doing business with them.
The move was quickly welcomed by the country’s prime minister and other government officials.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Twitter that his country’s removal from the list was “vindication of our determined and sustained efforts over the years.” He also congratulated the country’s civil and military leadership “as well as all institutions whose hard work led to today’s success."
Pakistani Deputy Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, speaking from Paris, expressed hope that the decision would boost Pakistan’s economy and increase its economic and financial engagement with the outside world.
“We want to be seen as a responsible and active member of the international community that is well aware of its international obligations," she said.
Countries on the “gray list” have a high risk of money laundering and terrorism financing but have formally committed to working with the task force to make changes.
The FATF is made up of 37 member countries, including the United States, and two regional groups, the Gulf Cooperation Council and the European Commission. Only Iran, North Korea, and Burma are fully blacklisted and refuse to cooperate with the FATF.
Kumar said Russia has been "sidelined" at the FATF because of its invasion of Ukraine. FATF had already taken some measures to exclude Russia in June.
"Russia's actions continue to violate FATFs core principles, which aim to promote security, safety, and the integrity of the financial system," the FATF said.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement that the FATF "again condemned the Russian war against Ukraine and took further steps to restrict Russia’s membership privileges, including curtailing its ability to engage in FATF’s work and banning it from participating in regional groups as a FATF member.”
These moves build on the "unprecedented censure of Russia by the FATF in June," she said.