Pakistan, Hungary warn of watchdog’s political use


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan 

Pakistan and Hungary agreed on Friday that the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global money-laundering watchdog, should be seen as a technical body rather than a political tool to be used against others.

Speaking at a joint news conference in Islamabad, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said he and his Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjarto discussed the FATF and both were agreed that this forum should not be used as a political tool against anyone.

Szijjarto arrived in Islamabad on Friday morning at Qureshi’s invitation. He is Hungary’s first foreign minister to visit the country since 2006.

“We both agree that it’s a technical forum and the objective of this forum ought to be checking money laundering and terror financing, and it should not be used as a political tool,” Qureshi said, adding that this was “often” how the body was used.

Qureshi was referring to an FATF decision to keep his country on its radar since June 2018, when it was placed on the “grey list” for alleged terrorist financing and money-laundering risks.

Despite progress on all items of an action plan to prevent such actions and largely addressing 24 of the total 27 points, the watchdog recently kept Pakistan on its watchlist until June this year.

Qureshi also thanked Hungary’s government for endorsing his country’s application for GSP (Generalized System of Preferences)-Plus status with the EU.

Last year, the EU extended Pakistan’s GSP-Plus status, enabling the country to continue to benefit from preferential export duties for the next two years.

Pakistan, Hungary bilateral cooperation

During the delegation-level talks, both countries’ foreign ministers agreed to enhance bilateral trade and cooperation in all sectors, including education and agriculture.

Szijjarto announced an $84 million credit line to support the expansion of business-to-business cooperation between the two countries’ companies, as well as another $50 million for projects in Pakistan’s agriculture, water, industry, and food processing sectors.

He also announced the opening of a new consulate in Karachi, Pakistan’s southern port city.

Szijjarto praised Pakistan’s role in the Afghan peace process and said the EU should support Islamabad’s anti-terror efforts, especially after the decision of NATO to pull out the Resolute Support mission from Afghanistan.

“We have to recognize and value a very important role Pakistan played in the Doha negotiations between the US and the Taliban,” Szijjarto told Qureshi during the news conference.

After NATO’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, he urged EU members not to allow the country to become a safe haven for terrorism and radical ideologies, adding: “We [EU] need to stabilize Pakistan’s role in this region.”

The visiting Hungarian foreign minister also announced increased university student scholarships for Pakistani students.


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