Analysts are of the opinion that placing Pakistan on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) grey list in June and squeezing its economic potential to meet its foreign financing needs will not cause a shift in Islamabad’s security and strategic calculus, according to a report in the Economic Times.
Factual evidence, both historic and current, according to an article published in The Diplomat suggests that Pakistan has survived previous rounds of international pressure and there is scant evidence that this time around as well that its strategic and security calculus may not shift this time too.
According to Uzair Younus, Director of the Albright Stonebridge Group, a Washington DC-based think tank, and author of the article, “The strategy to mainstream the LeT has not been abandoned: the Milli Muslim League (MML), a political party associated with Hafiz Saeed, was launched last year.”
“United States officials have also said that they have not seen any visible action by the Pakistanis against the Haqqani Network and its facilitators. Civil society continues to be targeted, with Pashtun youth organising against extra-judicial killings by security forces bearing the brunt in recent days,” he states further.
He suggests that Pakistan and its security establishment have always had the protection of one or more international patrons, including the United States.
“What is different this time around is that China and Saudi Arabia, strategic partners that have historically supported Pakistan, have signalled that they will not unconditionally stand by their ally”, and that Islamabad faces the risk of greater international isolation if it refuses to alter its strategic posture with or without a nudge from China.
It is being said that those that have closely followed Pakistan would argue that even a cautiously optimistic assessment is too optimistic.
In his article, Younus cautions Pakistan to view the FATF decision with some concern, given that the Trump Administration has made and continues to make concerted efforts to coerce Islamabad not to support of non-state armed groups such as the Haqqani Network and the Laskhar-e-Taiba (LeT), besides other terror outfits.
Washington, Younus opines has even shown a willingness to squeeze Pakistan’s finances if required to make it bend. He says, “Sensing that the United States would use the FATF’s February meeting to up the ante, Islamabad began to set its house in order. Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain issued an ordinance that amended the country’s 1997 Anti-Terrorism Act and placed Hafiz Saeed’s Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) on the country’s banned organizations list. The government followed up by taking over both organizations’ assets, which includes thousands of staff and volunteers and dozens of schools and clinics.”