Why we were unable to plead our case successfully
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has decided to keep Pakistan on its ‘grey list of countries’ which have “strategic deficiencies” in their anti-money and counter-terrorism financing regimes. The organization’s earlier decision came into effect last week when Pakistan couldn’t convince the agency about some of the measures it had taken during the last few months to address a number of strategic deficiencies that were identified by FATF in February.
According to some reports, Pakistan presented a 26-point plan to curb terror financing which the country committed to implementing over the next one year. While Pakistan’s action was appreciated by FATF, the action plan was not enough to get Islamabad off the list. “Besides other actions, the plan includes squelching of finances of Jamaatud Dawa, Falah-i-Insaniat, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad, Haqqani network and Afghan Taliban,” said a report.
A number of analysts argue that a lot needs to be done on Pakistan’s part to ensure that the country doesn’t remain permanently on the list which would certainly have economic implications for Pakistan. As Pakistan was fighting its case at FATF, a number of Islamist groups which are known for inciting violence in the country were allowed to contest elections in Pakistan. ‘With Saeed’s aides and associates contesting the upcoming polls and the unfreezing of assets of Pakistan’s inaction against terror financing remains questionable and hence weakens its FATF case,’ argues Farooq Yousaf. ‘Given recent developments, particularly on Pakistan’s electoral front, this isn’t terribly surprising,’ said Michael Kugelman. ‘A number of proscribed organizations are not only contesting elections in Pakistan but are openly engaged in fanning sectarian violence in the country. After allowing various conservative groups open space in the upcoming general election, did anyone expect anything but confirmation of FATF grey listing?’ asked Mosharraf Zaidi.
As Pakistan was fighting its case at FATF, a number of Islamist groups which are known for inciting violence in the country were allowed to contest elections in Pakistan
Again internationally, Pakistan found itself isolated as its traditional allies didn’t intervene to save Islamabad from getting its name permanently on the grey list. This has been termed a diplomatic catastrophe for the country. China’s support only came in the form of asking the international community to respect Pakistan’s counterterrorism efforts. “We have always believed that the great efforts and sacrifices made by the Pakistani government and people for the fight against terrorism are obvious to all. The international community must give full recognition and trust,” Chinese foreign ministry’s spokesperson Lu Kang said in a statement. The ministry further said that “China hopes that all parties will treat Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts objectively and impartially, instead of relying on criticism and pressure.”
However, the country didn’t intervene strategically to get Islamabad off the list. While this has been termed a failure on the part of Pakistan’s diplomacy, China’s position should not be gauged from a perspective that only views Pakistan’s ties with the country. Rather, it should be seen in the context of Islamabad’s failure to take measures which were required from the country to undermine any lobbying which would keep Pakistan on the list of countries with weak terror financing legislation. China is a country which has global economic interests and wouldn’t take a decision just by making calculations in terms of its ties with Pakistan. Beijing’s calculations are more global and take into account far greater interests and concerns than its relationship with Pakistan.
It’s naïve to expect that any county would come to Pakistan’s rescue when taking such an action would only undermine its own interests. Moreover, strong lobbying only works when a state actor has done its homework in terms of making a strong case to convince its international allies that it has enough evidence to make a case against opposing forces. In Pakistan’s case, this, unfortunately, lacks: The outgoing government in Pakistan and the current caretaker government have not shown any willingness and commitment to undermining networks which continue to tarnish Pakistan’s global image. The outgoing government remained embroiled in political controversies rather than focusing on carrying out legislation which would have an impact on Pakistan’s international standing.
The outgoing government remained embroiled in political controversies rather than focusing on carrying out legislation which would have an impact on Pakistan’s international standing
As it appears, Pakistan has another 15 months to implement a number of policy actions which have been recommended by the FATF. These actions also involve taking tough action against various groups whose infrastructure not only remains intact in the country but are also contesting elections to make space in the parliament. This only makes the state’s task to reign in such groups difficult: it’s one thing to do a military operation against militant groups based in tribal areas and its altogether different challenge to shut down groups which enjoy widespread public support. Pakistan has a lot of work to do in order to reach a point where it convinces the international community about its actions against extremism. Above all, the country should not expect any assistance from any state including China if the former doesn’t take action against extremist groups based in the country.