- State Department’s message to Pakistan
The US State Department’s report on terrorism, mandated by and presented to US Congress, focused on Pakistan’s terror financing, indicating that the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) process is more important than even the importance it has been given by Islamabad. As Pakistan needs US support to come off the FATF grey list, the report becomes even more important. The State Department is apparently careful not to commit itself one way or another, and while it finds that Pakistan has carried out a number of measures to prevent terror financing, it has also not been that efficient at implementation, which the report describes as ‘uneven’.
The report also raises the issue of continued support for the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammed, which it said were allowed to put up candidates in the 2018 elections, apart from raising money, recruiting and training. There were also concerns raised about providing sanctuary to the Haqqani Network as well as the Afghan Taliban. These concerns tie in with the financial aspect because they might determine, and certainly will colour, the US attitude in FATF. It should not be forgotten that China has indicated that it might not be able to offer Pakistani the support it has so far extended at the FATF, which has actually kept Pakistan off the FATF blacklist so far. However, it should not be forgotten that FATF indicated in its last meeting that Pakistan would not get any further extensions after the February meeting, to which it had received an extension. It should seem like a no-brainer: to preserve Pakistan’s access to the world’ capital markets on the one hand versus the support of these militant groups.
Instead of Pakistan getting unalloyed credit for its valiant efforts to prevent terror groups from using its soil, it finds itself castigated for not doing enough. This is solely because of certain elements which seem to put these groups ahead of the national interest. The national interest demands that Pakistan avoid FATF blacklisting, which would have horrific economic effects, and that too on an economy which is already not in the best shape to sustain those effects. For too long has Pakistan, or rather certain elements within it, run with the hare and hunted with the hounds. This must end.