FATF Offers another Lifeline to Pakistan

10/29/2019

Though not unexpected, the decision of the Paris based Financial Action Task Force, FATF,the UN Watchdog on terrorism financing and money laundering, to keep on hold the listing of Pakistan on its blacklist is deplorable. As a country that deliberately ducks implementation of the action plan that the FATF had given it last year, Pakistan has got a lifeline. It does not deserve such leniency. In fact it needs exemplary chastisement at a global forum for its steadfast refusal to renounce terror as an instrument of state policy.
But from what transpired at the end of Paris plenary on October 18Pakistan hasgot away with a warning, thanks tothe stonewalling tactics adopted by China as also Turkey and Malaysia, both of which have abandoned their inclusive, secular path to move towards radicalisation—a trajectory very similar to Pakistan’s, except that the radicalisation process had begun in the land of the pure at least three decades earlier.
Well, it is not that Pakistan was not administered a dressing down at the FATF but that is to be seen in the context of three countries finding themselves out of the grey list—Sri Lanka, Ethiopia and Tunisia. Amongst the countries that face the danger of being included in the FATF grey list are Russia and Turkey. The last named country is a regular partner of Pakistan in the latter’s anti-India moves across the world.
Pakistan has now time till February next year to satisfy FATF that it is sincere in ending terror financing and money laundering. The question is will Pakistan meet that deadline? The answer is a resounding no. It is because, notwithstanding its public assertions, Pakistan has so far shown no serious intent in taking action against the likes of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) and their leaders who are engaged in terror financing and money laundering.What is more it has failed to make any significant progress on all but six of the 40-points in the action plangiven to it in September last year.
In an action that belongs to the realm of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, Pakistan acted on six parameters of the FATF plan. One of these areas was ‘lecturing’ bankers on the dangers of terror financing and money laundering; another was placing the names of UN-designated terror entities on a website! What a mockery it is? Both terror financing and money laundering have not stopped, and the situation may not change four months fromnow when the FATF undertakes its promised review.
The world knows –China including- knows that Pakistan will never be sincere in doing what the FATF wants it to do because terrorism has become itsbasic tool to secure strategic interests from Afghanistan to India and in Xinjiang. Terrorism against Indiahelps it sustain a ‘low cost’ proxy war, and make the infidel to bleed. And it gives strategic depth beyond the Durand Line with a strap on Kabul throne. Reaching out to Muslim majority Chinese region is religious obligation of the country founded as the home of the Muslims of the sub-continent.
Funnily, Pakistan is emboldened in its enterprise to defy bodies like the FATF and international opinion because of the strong and persistent support it gets from China. Also because of a few Islamic nations it is cultivating desperately.The U.S., too cannot escape the blame because it is walking the extra mile to pamper Pakistan to cash in on its ties with terror groups operating in Afghanistan. Islamabad knows its leverage vis-à-vis Washington which is desperate to get out of that war ravaged country.
No surprise, Pakistan sees the outcome of the five-day FATF Paris meet through its India prism. “We have thwarted Indian effortsto place us on the blacklist. It is a victory and therefore time for celebration,” say reports in Pakistan media quoting the foreign office sources. The report may be right but Pakistan cannot afford to gloss over the language used to warn it. Significantly, the warning was read out by the Chinese diplomat Xiangmin Liu, who had chaired the proceedings.
It was on June 29, 2018 that Pakistan was placed on the ‘grey list’—just three years after it was removed from that very list after a three –year stay. Presence on the ‘grey list’ signals to the world that the country is risky for investment and business transaction. It would be a matter of shame and despairfor any country like Pakistan, which is knocking at the door of donors and aid agencies for soft loans to keep afloat economically.
The sword of blacklist that hangs over Pakistan now will make matters worse and the consequences for a country with its economy surviving on doles from the IMF and China and a few rich Muslim countries can be disastrous. It can reach a point where even patron-in-chief, China, and the cash-rich ‘brotherly’ Saudi Arabia and UAE may not be able to do much to prevent Pakistan’s fast descent into the abyss.
As pointed out already, the statement by Xiangmin at the end of Paris plenary was unusually sharp. It must have left Turkey and Malaysia red faced in embarrassment since they closed ranks to save Pakistan from the ignominy of blacklist.
Xiangmin was quoted in the mediaas ‘warning’ Pakistan that if by February next year it failed to show signs of progress on the action plan, FATF would consider taking ‘further action that potentially includes placing the country on the public statement, also referred to as the blacklist’. Is this something that makes Pakistanis ‘happy’?
Pakistan may have been assuming that China would protect it eternally from any harm at international fora. But China too has its own worries, especially at a time when it has been attracting adverse attention from not just the US but many countries in its own neighbourhood. It makes little sense for China to perennially bail out the iron friend, when it has reasons to worry that its Muslim population in the western provinces is playing into the hands of terrorists operating from safe havens located in and near the Northern Areas of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). Allabaksh