India is “concerned” that during the upcoming plenary of the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF), China is going to up the ante in its support for Pakistan, and try to get it off the ‘grey list’, as a result of its ongoing tensions with India. But India is geared up for a “strong diplomatic push” to blacklist Pakistan, ThePrint has learnt.

The FATF plenary is going to be held virtually this time from 21-23 October, and India is preparing for a “dual challenge” it expects to face from Beijing and Islamabad, diplomatic sources said.

The plenary will take place at a time when India and China are engaged in a bitter stand-off in the Ladakh sector of the Line of Actual Control, the biggest escalation of tensions since 1975.

The FATF plenary is the highest decision-making body and meets three times a year — February, June and October.

Pakistan on the ‘grey list’
Pakistan has been on the ‘grey list’ of the FATF since the June 2018 plenary, joining Iran and North Korea, when Islamabad was given a 27-point action plan, and a deadline of October 2019. But Pakistan could only fulfil five targets by then.

In October last year, the FATF had warned Pakistan that if it does not meet all the requirements, it will be placed in the category of “high risk” jurisdiction, also known as the ‘black list’.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has said he’s been taking a plethora of initiatives to crack down on the terror network in his country. But India continues to maintain that Pakistan is still providing active support to dreaded terrorist organisations like the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

In August this year, India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) filed a charge sheet
naming JeM chief Masood Azhar, his brother Abdul Rauf Asghar and others for carrying out the 2019 Pulwama attack, in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.

India has brought it to the notice of the FATF that the Imran Khan government issued two notifications giving details of the present status of 88 terrorists and their entities, including Dawood Ibrahim, Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed, Masood Azhar and others, to the United Nations.

What’s likely to happen at the plenary
Now, China is trying to bring Pakistan out of the ‘grey list’, since it impacts foreign investments in that country.

“Clearly, China is going to play it out at the FATF this time, and already it has put considerable diplomatic weight behind Pakistan — that will save Islamabad once again from being blacklisted,” said an official who refused to be named.

India, meanwhile, hopes that the US will thwart China’s effort and let Pakistan be in the ‘grey list’. However, there is also acknowledgement that the US will not let Pakistan slip into the ‘black list’ due to the ongoing peace talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

According to the FATF norms, Pakistan has to meet at least 13 of the 27 parameters laid down by the watchdog to come out of the ‘grey list’. It would also need approval from 12 out of the FATF’s 39 members to exit the ‘grey list’, which it has not been able to get so far.

However, Pakistan needs only three votes to save itself from being blacklisted. According to sources, apart from China, it will also get support from Turkey and Malaysia.

Jayadeva Ranade, president of the Centre for China Analysis and Strategy and a former intelligence officer, told ThePrint, “China has come closer to Pakistan and its embrace of Islamabad has tightened ever since the stand-off with India. This was already building up since the surgical strikes, Balakot, and the abrogation of Article 370. But now the collaboration has gone deeper. China will now work harder to bring Pakistan out of the grey list, but in that it won’t be successful.”

Former foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal added: “The US will not let Pakistan get blacklisted and it will also get support from China, Turkey and Malaysia; thus its chances of getting blacklisted are very slim. But that does not mean India can stop making an effort. Rather, it should undertake more measures to ensure that Pakistan gets blacklisted.”