Should Pakistan find itself on the ‘grey list’ of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) — an intergovernmental body originally created to combat money laundering and, later, terror financing — it will be back where it once was before. After all, Islamabad’s failure to enact money laundering laws up to the FATF mark saw it added to the list of ‘naughty’ countries from 2012-2015.Thus Pakistan’s future in this regard hangs in the balance until the FATF meeting in Paris this week issues its verdict. The US and its western allies have co-sponsored a motion calling for this country to be added to a list of nations not sufficiently complying with anti-terror financing. The largely American contention rests on our refusal (or inability) to halt the activity of certain groups that have been proscribed as terrorist organisations by the UN; and even the Pakistani state itself. Were the worst to happen, Pakistan’s international financial links could be weakened even further. While the civil-military leadership reacted coolly to a suspension of up to $2 billion in US military assistance last month, experts have warned that inclusion on the FATF watch list risks real financial insecurity. The country’s credit ratings would go downhill and make it difficult to launch a Eurobond anytime within this fiscal year. For this to happen at this juncture — when Pakistan’s external debt and liabilities have risen to almost $89 billion, with it preparing to repay $3 billion of this by the summer — would be nothing short of disastrous. In addition, a considerable threat is posed to the Pakistani economic growth rate; which, at five percent, is the highest it has been in a decade.It is therefore not surprising, then, that the civilian leadership recently took action against two of Hafiz Saeed’s charities, Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and Filah-e-Insaniyat Foundation (FiF), as well as the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP)-linked Jundullah. Meanwhile, Pakistan stands accused of taking no concrete action against the Haqqani Network despite formally banning it back in 2015; some three years after the US proscription. The motion against Pakistan at the FATF seems to be the Trump administration’s latest attempt to have us do more, more, more against groups that have the US, India and Afghanistan in their sights and that Washington insists are operating within our borders. The decision to push this agenda came around the same time as the US Worldwide Threat Assessment report, which warns that our nuclear arsenal and militant safe-havens will continue to threaten regional security in 2019.To take action against groups proscribed by the UN which operate freely on our soil is in everyone’s interests. That we have already formally banned some of these only goes to underscore the need to enforce a concrete crackdown on operations and terror financing. Which of course is what the Paris moot is all about. * Published in Daily Times, February 18th 2018.