ISLAMABAD: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) is not opening Afghanistan Relief Fund bank account fearing sanctions of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The central bank, nonetheless, has asked the government to review its decision about the ARF, sources said.
According to sources, the State Bank of Pakistan has returned the government’s request to open the relief fund.
The federal government had decided to open the bank account to receive cash donations from Pakistan and abroad to help Afghan people meet their immediate humanitarian needs.
However, the central bank’s stance has landed the government in trouble because the government was on the forefront in extending cash support to Afghanistan in this critical time when millions of Afghan nationals are facing food crisis.
Interestingly, Finance Ministry issued instructions to the State Bank to open ARF account on Dec 8, 2022, to provide humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, but so far the bank account opening task remains incomplete.
Officials said the Finance Ministry has referred the objections of the central bank to the Economic Affairs Ministry, the Law Ministry and the Foreign Office with direction to review the matter and place it before the federal cabinet to fulfill the legal compliance.
Interestingly, by not opening Afghanistan Relief Fund, the State Bank of Pakistan has exposed the authority of the federal government. The SBP’s objection to govt-supported bank account for Afghanistan on the pretext of FATF seems a tactic to delay support for Afghanistan and to please for the foreign masters.
Present government had summoned a special session of the OIC in Islamabad and mustered support of the member countries of the organisation in support of Afghanistan, but Pakistan’s own central bank has refused to open ARF bank account, making mockery of the government’s policy and ignoring the critical situation in Afghanistan.