The whole of Pakistan is in a celebratory mood after it appeared to be hitting the goal of exiting the grey list of Financial Action Task Force.
It has been on this list, which denoted that it is helping in terror financing, or inactive in taking action against the groups and individuals responsible for promoting terrorism, for four years.
It is still a step away from being restored to white list – that is on-site visit which it will have to do in October this year.
The FATF statement was heartwarming for Pakistan. It stated: “At its June 2022 Plenary, the FATF made the initial determination that Pakistan has substantially completed its two action plans, covering 34 items, and warrants an on-site visit to verify that the implementation of Pakistan’s AML/CFT reforms has begun and is being sustained, and that the necessary political commitment remains in place to sustain implementation and improvement in the future”.
This statement sparked off a flurry of congratulatory messages over this diplomatic accomplishment, giving an impression that Pakistan’s own efforts and diplomatic skills had achieved this feat, which would help it shore up its image in the international arena and also help the International Monetary Fund to give loan that Islamabad has been seeking to tide over its economic troubles. It is a win-win scene for the whole of Pakistan.
Having reached here, the question for Pakistan is, what next? Is this win-win perception all that it needed. There are more challenges ahead of it – getting out of the grey list is indeed an accomplishment that its diplomats and others in the establishment are celebrating. But there are other facts too, which cannot be hidden from the plain sight – America played its role in getting Pakistan to this stage, especially after Islamabad-Rawalpindi combine helped it to open talks with Afghan Taliban. There were many ups and downs during the talks, and the end result was, in no way, happy ending that Washington would have liked to see, yet it cannot be ignored that talks paved way for American exit from Afghanistan.
As President Biden noted in June last year that “the United States did what we went to do in Afghanistan; to get the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 and deliver justice to Osama Bin Laden, and to degrade the terrorist threat to keep Afghanistan from becoming a base from which attacks could be continued against the United States. We achieved these objectives”.
America drew its own sense of accomplishment. What helped it to draw this conclusion were talks with Taliban that had promised that Afghanistan would be a stable place after Americans and its NATO allies leave the country. This is a different matter that how things ended finally - in chaos and confusion. But all the American soldiers were back home in time. That’s what mattered to Washington more than anything else, as after nearly two decades, war had yielded nothing for it except the loss of billions of dollars and grim milestones of losing its soldiers. So, America rewarded Pakistan by opening the exit route from the ‘ grey list”.
So, this what next demands answers on many answers, not only within Pakistan but its conduct with others in the world. Any stumble will have consequences. America will be watching it more sharply than ever before. Despite its somewhat benevolence toward Pakistan after the regime change, it will not shut its eyes to Pakistan’s actions on the ground.
For the time being, it might have turned its gaze away from talks that Islamabad is holding with the terror group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP, but that it would adopt the same attitude all the time is a misperception. America can, as it has done in the past too, start squeezing it again, diplomatically and financially.
It will be closely watching the outcome of the talks and the conditions which Pakistan government would agree to. The demands of TTP are frightening even from Pakistan’s standards.
Pakistan is seeking to buy peace at the cost of bigger perils that may visit it if it happens to agree to the conditions set by the terror group. It should be blunt in setting out the ground rules that it cannot, and will not allow the TTP to have cake and eat it too, in terms of the influence it is seeking geographically – the restoration of FATA, and complete Islamic style governance over there.
This, in no case, is an internal matter of Pakistan that how it conducts the negotiations and what outcome these lead to. The growth of extremism at an astronomical scale is a danger for the rest of the world, where the matters flash on smart phones within a fraction of second.
The real test would lie in its relationship with India. The Indian concerns remain where these were. Pakistan’s attitude toward India has remained unchanged. It is showing no signs of halting or slowing down wheels of terrorism that have wrecked Kashmir in all senses of the word. It is one thing for Pakistan to take into consideration West’s worries, but quite different when it comes to its eastern neighbour.
Pakistan should remind itself what it is doing in Kashmir. The contradiction is too obvious: there is not even a whisper when civilians are targeted and killed by terrorists, but when the killers of innocents are neutralised in the security forces’ actions, they are termed as “ Kashmiri youth”. Pakistan seeks to portray the killers as innocents, while stays silent when the real innocents are killed. Pakistan must do an introspection and come out clearly on its stand on terrorism. It should look at the graveyards in Kashmir, a vast majority of graves are there because of the terrorists and weapons it exported to Kashmir.
It has changed its strategies from time to time, at least that is clear since 1990, when it first banked upon Kashmiri youth, lured them to its training camps where they were imparted training and armed with deadly weapons to kill fellow Kashmiris. Within three years, it developed doubts about the militant groups it had created. it introduced more and more militant groups, showing its lack of faith in any of them. The groups were played against one another. After Kashmiri militants realised that they were killing their own people and causing an irreparable damage to the social and cultural fabric of the Valley, Rawalpindi started sending Pakistani and Afghan militants to intensify the level of violence and as a punishment the local militants were reduced to couriers and errand boys for Pakistani and pan-Islamic outfits – Harkat-ul-Ansar, Lashkar-e-Toiba, and later it brought Jaish-e-Mohammad too.
Now it has embarked on the targeted killings of Hindus and Muslims – to cause unrest in Kashmir, and also to conspire to shed the blood through its policies of hate and communal politics. It, however, has not realised that these conspiracies create an environment of hate and more violence. If this trend continues, the grey list or not, it will never become white in the eyes of Kashmiris.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.