Terrorism and Challenges Related To It

FATF, Fighting the Terrorism or Just Another Diplomatic Arena


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: FATF

Mains level: FATF, grey listing and blacklisting, Money laundering and terror financing



  • On October 21, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog, announced the removal of Pakistan from its Grey List. The announcement was expected.

What is FATF?

  • Inter-governmental organization: The FATF, a 39-member inter-governmental organization with its headquarters in Paris, was set up in 1989 by the Group of Seven (G7) countries with the aim of setting global standards for countering the menace of money laundering.
  • Terror financing included under FATF mandate: Following the terror attacks on September 11, 2001, the objective of countering the financing of terrorism was added to the FATF’s mandate. Later, its objectives were further expanded to counter the financing of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.


How FATF functions?

  • Three level mandate: The FATF seeks to fulfil its three-pronged mandate by drawing up a list of guidelines. Known as the FATF Recommendations or FATF Standards, these are meant to ensure a coordinated global response to prevent.
  1. organized crime,
  2. corruption and
  3. Terrorism
  • Domestic plus international regulatory measures: They encompass a range of domestic legislative, regulatory and enforcement actions, as well as international cooperation measures, that states are expected to adopt and implement.
  • Consensus based decision: The FATF and its associate, or regional, members such as the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) take their decisions on the basis of consensus. More than 200 countries and jurisdictions are committed to implementing the FATF’s recommendations.


What is grey listing and black listing?

  • Monitoring the adherence to recommendations: The FATF monitors adherence to its recommendations by periodic evaluations of the anti-money laundering (AML), combating financing of terrorism (CFT) and proliferation financing (PF) regimes of member countries and jurisdictions which voluntarily submit to its monitoring.
  • Strategic deficiencies by countries: Countries which exhibit strategic deficiencies in their AML/CFT/PF regimes are placed under a scheme of “increased monitoring” informally known as Grey Listing.
  • Action plan to address the deficiencies: States placed under the Grey List are expected to swiftly put in place the requisite measures to address their deficiencies on the basis of Action Plans drawn up and evaluated through a process of consultation with the FATF.
  • Serious strategic deficiency: States that exhibit serious strategic deficiencies in their AML/CFT/ PF regimes are placed under a Black List formally known as High-Risk Jurisdictions subject to a Call for Action.
  • Serious economic consequences may follow: While Grey Listing amounts to a warning, Black Listing entails serious economic consequences by making it incumbent on governments, international lenders and commercial entities to conduct enhanced due diligence checks while transacting business with the designated countries and, in extreme cases, apply “counter-measures” against offenders.

Present status of listing by FATF?

  • Grey listing: Following the removal of Pakistan, there are 23 countries on the FATF’s Grey List.
  • Black listing: There are only three countries on the Black List, North Korea, Iran and Myanmar. These listing processes of the FATF are driven predominantly by the pulls and pressures of international power politics and not merely by technical parameters.

How Pakistan has been grilled by FATF for Terror financing?

  • In 2008 Pakistan removed from listing: Pakistan has been placed in and removed from the Grey List in the past too. The first time was from February, 2008 to June, 2010, when it was removed from the list after it supposedly demonstrated progress in improving its AML/AFT regime.
  • Mumbai terror attack and grey list: The terrorist attacks in Mumbai on November 26, 2008 took place while Pakistan was on the Grey List for the first time. The second time was from February, 2012 to February, 2015, by the end of which period it had supposedly made significant progress in improving its AML/CFT regime.
  • Osama bin laden killing: The elimination of Osama bin Laden in the American raid on Abbottabad on May 2, 2011 took place after Pakistan’s exit from the Grey List for the first time and before its placement on the list for the second time.
  • From 2018-2022: Pakistan was placed in the Grey List for the third time in June, 2018 and remained there till October, 2022. During this period, it was compelled to put in place several legislative, administrative and regulatory measures to improve its compliance with international AML/CFT standards.
  • Action against individual and organisations: In recent years, there has been increasing realisation among FATF members that it is the effectiveness of action taken against individuals and entities of concern rather than pro-forma technical compliance” that should form the basis of judging the extent of adherence to FATF standards.
  • Conviction of hafiz Saeed: It is this more realistic approach coupled with the implicit threat of being moved from the Grey List to the Black List that finally compelled Pakistan to prosecute, convict, fine and jail, on terrorism financing charges, Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) Amir, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, LeT’s chief operational commander, Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and Sajid Majeed aka Sajid Mir, “operational manager” of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, after having pronounced him missing and dead.
  • Jaish-e-Mohammed: A disingenuous attempt by Pakistan to persuade a visiting FATF verification team in August-September 2022 that Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) Amir, Maulana Masood Azhar, had escaped to Afghanistan was strongly countered by a spokesman of the Afghan Taliban.

How Pakistan manages pressure form FATF?

  • with the support of USA: It is well known that much of the diplomatic heavy lifting to place Pakistan in the Grey List in June 2018 and keep it on the list for an extended period of time was done by the US. There had been a feeling among those following developments at the FATF that American pressure on Pakistan would continue till such time as the US needed Pakistan to bring the Afghan Taliban to the negotiating table and once the US withdrawal from Afghanistan was completed, the pressure on Pakistan would ease. Subsequent developments have validated this assessment.
  • Help of China and turkey: Although the threat of being moved from the Grey List to the Blacklist remained hanging over Pakistan’s head, this was never a realistic possibility, considering the likely opposition to any such move by Pakistan’s staunch friends in the FATF, such as China, Malaysia, Turkey and Saudi Arabia



  • India will have to continue mustering all available instruments and options to deny Pakistan operating space to wield the jihadi weapon, till such time as there is convincing evidence of a consensus among the generals in Rawalpindi that the weapon has outlived its utility and needs to be renounced once and for all.

Mains Question

How FATF is useful international forum for fight against terrorism? How was Pakistan forced by FATF to take actions against mastermind of 26/11 attack?

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