Off the grey list… For now

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Has Pakistan become a liability for its International friends?

On Friday, a Washington sponsored resolution at the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international group against terrorism financing, managed to place Islamabad back on its list of countries that allegedly support terror groups. The final decision on the resolution reportedly states that the country will be back on the ‘greylist’ that places countries that finance terrorism by the end of June this year.

Only a day earlier on Thursday, a US move to put Pakistan’s name on the list of countries aiding terrorism was objected by a number of states supporting Islamabad at the forum. Initially, Islamabad’s hurried efforts to assemble international support to ensure that the resolution lacked consensus were supported by China, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. After blocking Washington’s initial push, Pakistan’s foreign office prematurely declared victory, celebrating a diplomatic triumph against countries that were lobbying against Islamabad at the forum. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister in a social media statement said that his ministry had defied efforts of the country’s enemies and thanked the international friends for helping Pakistan at the forum.

It’s nothing less than a sheer humiliation for Pakistan that China and Saudi Arabia were playing Pakistan’s card to garner their own international diplomatic support base

The whole drama which unfolded in Paris this week has not only undermined Pakistan’s international credibility further but has also reinforced the need for a radical change in Pakistan’s security and foreign policy which continue to remain a victim of a tiny elite’s wayward approach. In this regard, some key takeaways for Pakistan include the following:

First, while Islamabad says that it has done enough in terms of making efforts to curtail terrorism in the country, the world is not yet ready to recognize Pakistan’s efforts unless its so-called policy of discriminating between different militant groups changes. Unfortunately, the country’s ruling elite doesn’t consider groups that target a number of neighboring states a national security threat. The country’s current security policy not only patronizes militant groups domestically for foreign policy gains but also offers them an enabling environment in terms of spreading their Jihadist narrative in the country which is clearly a regional and international threat if not solely for Pakistan. Pakistan’s ruling elite needs to recognize that the world even the country’s so-called close allies are not going to put up with Islamabad’s ideological hang-up which only mushrooms militancy and is becoming a threat for regional states. Moreover, the ruling elite also needs to recognize that they cannot continue to keep more than 200 million people hostage for their own narrow institutional and personal political interests. It’s the need of the hour that Pakistan’s introduces pragmatism in its foreign policy which should also be reflective of the country’s security policy if Pakistan is to survive international isolation and humiliation even at the hands of its close allies.

Second, the fact that Pakistan’s so-called close allies, particularly China, Saudi Arabia and Turkey actually negotiated terms with opposing lobbying states for their own gains and benefits to give up their support for Pakistan, shows that in politics there are no permanent enemies or friends, only permanent interests. It’s nothing less than a sheer humiliation for Pakistan that China and Saudi Arabia were playing Pakistan’s card to garner their own international diplomatic support base. Moreover, the fact that China and Saudi Arabia allowed India and the United States to successfully place Pakistan on the list of countries that finance terrorism means that Islamabad has yet to take significant actions to curtail infrastructure and support bases of groups which are considered a threat regionally and internationally. It’s silly and irrational on Pakistan’s part to expect its allies support when the latter itself is not ready put its act together. China stands to gain far more because of its economic and military relations with US and India than Pakistan and expecting Beijing to come for our rescue every time we knock on their door as a liability doesn’t help the so-called ‘deeper than the ocean and higher than the Himalayas’, mutual friendship.

The whole drama which unfolded in Paris this week has not only undermined Pakistan’s international credibility further but has also reinforced the need for a radical change in Pakistan’s security and foreign policy which continue to remain a victim of a tiny elite’s wayward approach

While the world is insisting that Pakistan take decisive action in terms of introducing a policy to undermine growing presence of militant groups in Pakistan, elected governments in the country are giving millions of rupees in funding to Madrassas which are keeping Pakistan’s foreign policy a hostage to their political interests tied with so-called Islamic ideology. Moreover, just putting the leader of Jama’at-ud-Da’wah (JuD) under house arrest and expecting the international community to take it as a credible action on Pakistan’s part while the groups remain active on the ground, confirms that its Pakistan’s ruling elite which is letting the country down rather than its international friends. If Pakistan is to emerge as an economic giant and benefit strategically from the current economic revival, the country needs to act against groups which are a clear liability for Pakistan and its allies.

It’s high time that we reevaluate our outdated security and foreign policy like a rational state by keeping in mind the country’s national interests that should serve more than 200 million people rather than the tiny ruling elite which has become a liability itself.

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