Pakistan's parliament has passed a bill for providing legal assistance in international criminal matters as part of efforts to fulfil the conditions set by the global financial watchdog FATF. The Mutual Legal Assistance (Criminal Matters) Amendment Bill was passed by the Senate, the upper house, amidst protest by the Opposition.

What

  1. Pakistan was placed on the grey list by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in June, 2018 and was given a plan of action to complete it by October 2019. Since then the country continues to be in that list due to its failure to comply with the FATF mandates.
  2. International cooperation in criminal matters through mutual legal assistance and extradition is intended to bridge existing gaps in respective countries toward effective law enforcement.
  3. The requested state will provide mutual legal support to the requesting state by executing necessary actions on its territory in any specific criminal case warranting shared assistance.
  4. The bill was passed by majority vote as the Opposition kept on expressing its reservations.
  5. With Pakistan's continuation in the 'grey' list, it is increasingly becoming difficult for Islamabad to get financial aid from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the European Union, thus further enhancing problems for the debt-ridden nation.
  6. The Paris-based FATF put Pakistan on the grey list in June 2018 and asked Islamabad to implement a plan of action to curb money laundering and terror financing by the end of 2019 but the deadline was extended later on due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Flashback

  1. The FATF is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 to combat money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.
  2. The FATF currently has 39 members including two regional organisations — the European Commission and Gulf Cooperation Council.