Pakistan’s embarrassment of being yet once again retained on the grey list of international terror financing watchdog Financial Action Task Force [FATF], is understandable. However, what’s inexplicable is Islamabad’s insistence on rubbing salt to its own wounds by highlighting India’s External Affairs Minister [EAM] S Jaishankar remarks that New Delhi had ensured Pakistan’s retention in FATF grey list. So in its puerile attempt to shift blame from its own failings to New Delhi, Islamabad has only ended up behaving like a sore loser and the laughable allegation of its Foreign Office [FO] about “politicisation of FATF and undermining of its processes by India,” is tantamount to an explicit admission that Islamabad has been clearly and squarely diplomatically outmanoeuvred.
Pakistan’s gameplan of tilting at windmills
From the FO statement issued after Jaishankar’s FAFT remarks, Islamabad’s argument is in line with its favourite ‘cherry-pick’ stratagem to weave a narrative in order to camouflage its own failings and in this case, it has made some rather ludicrous claims, such as:
- New Delhi is responsible for “politicisation of FATF and undermining of its processes.”
- India is using FATF which is “for its political designs against Pakistan.”
- Pakistan is “sincerely and constructively engaged with FATF during the implementation of the Action Plan,” but “India has left no stone unturned in casting doubts on Pakistan’s progress through disgraceful means.”
- “India’s credentials for assessing Pakistan in FATF as co-chair of the Joint Group or for that matter any other country are subject to questions,” which Islamabad has urged “FATF to look into.”
In short, Islamabad wants the world to believe that while it is the epitome of morality and ethics, New Delhi, on the other hand is Devil incarnate, determined to destroy Pakistan. It also wants the international community to believe that New Delhi so influential that it can, not only dictate terms to the 39-nation strong FATF, but even use this august forum as an arena to diplomatically belabour Pakistan. However, like always, Islamabad has once again failed to buttress its allegations with credible evidence and as is its wont, keeps complaining that no one listens to it. For example, in the instance case, while Islamabad has accused New Delhi of “casting doubts on Pakistan’s progress through disgraceful means,” it hasn’t revealed what exactly were these “disgraceful means”?
What did India’s EAM say?
Jaishankar has been quoted by ANI as saying the following:
- “Due to us, Pakistan is under the lens of FATF and it was kept in the grey list.”
- “We have been successful in pressuring Pakistan and the fact that Pakistan’s behaviour has changed is because of pressure put by India by various measures.”
- It is due to “India’s efforts through UN, [that] terrorists from LeT [Lashkar-e-Taiba] and Jaish [Jaish-e-Mohammad] have come under sanctions.”
- “[Indian] PM’s personal efforts made on forums like G20 or G7 made nations realise that terrorism is everyone’s problem.”
- “India ensured that the world should be concerned about terrorism and that other countries should stop seeing terrorism as a domestic problem of certain nations or law and order problem of particular nations.”
EAM versus FO
Even the most rabid critic of New Delhi and fanatical Jaishankar-baiter would agree that there is nothing uncivil in what the EAM has said. It’s also amply clear that Islamabad has been extremely selective in culling his statements to contrive a motivated narrative. In fact, what Jaishankar said was expected all along. Islamabad may have forgotten, but while speaking at the Jaipur Counter-Terrorism Conference 2016, when he was a civil servant [Foreign Secretary] and not a political personality, Jaishankar had made it clear that “The most important of them [interim steps to advance the prospects of a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism], is to exercise the ability to cause reputational damage.” He went on to emphasise that “Naming and shaming must be carried out relentlessly in the case of perpetrators, supporters and connivers of terrorism.”
What India’s EAM has said is nothing new but a mere reiteration of New Delhi’s official view that the menace of terrorism can only be curbed by “naming and shaming” countries that patronise it. So, isn’t Islamabad’s hullabaloo on this issue patently an attempt to divert public attention from its abysmal failure to rectify terror financing related observations raised by FATF?
Time for Islamabad to Introspect
If Pakistan continues to languish in FATF’s grey list even after it claims to have made substantial progress, then common-sense suggests that rather than blaming others, it needs to look inwards and set its own house in order first. So why blame India for the grey listing when Islamabad itself keeps sending wrong signals out to the international community? A few examples:
- Prime Minister Imran Khan has himself admitted that “when you talk about militant groups, we still have about 30,000-40,000-armed people who have been trained and fought in some part of Afghanistan or Kashmir.” It’s obvious that such a large number of terrorists are still present in Pakistan not only because they are being provided safe-sanctuaries, but also since someone is sustaining them. Under such circumstances, how can anyone even dream that Pakistan can escape grey-listing by FATF?
- When Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi publicly admits that UN designated international terrorist Masood Azhar who masterminded a 2019 Pulwama car-bomb attack is present in Pakistan, but its army immediately denies his presence on its soil, how can Islamabad expect to be trusted by FATF?
- How can FATF believe that Islamabad is genuinely clamping down on terrorism, when proscribed terrorist Hafiz Saeed who masterminded the 2008 Mumbai attacks, despite being awarded a jail term by a Pakistani court, continues to live in his luxurious house under police protection instead of serving his sentence in prison?
Surprisingly, despite failing to exit FATF’s grey list, Islamabad seems to be more than happy that this international terror funding watchdog has recognised Pakistan’s progress and efforts to address CFT [Combatting the Financing of Terrorism] action plan items. This is indeed very strange because in addition to the remaining CFT due to which Pakistan has been retained in FATF’s grey list, Asia Pacific Group, [a regional affiliate of FATF], has added a parallel ‘six-point action plan’ that Islamabad now needs to address.
So, while Washington’s recent appreciation of its efforts to implement FATF’s observations may generate a sense of euphoria in Pakistan, the fact is that in case it sincerely wishes the exit FATF’s grey list, then instead of complaining about being ‘framed’ by New Delhi, Islamabad needs to take things much more seriously, and replace words with action!
So, in case Islamabad ponders on William Shakespeare’s famous lines about the fault not being in our stars, but in ourselves, the resultant realisation that dawns on Imran Khan and his team may do them a lot of good.