Pakistan continues to mislead the international community with an elaborate farce to cover up its sponsorship of terror. It remains the global hub of state-sponsored terrorism with its present target being Afghanistan. No wonder that the Asia Pacific Group (APG) of the FATF (Financial Action Task Force), the global anti-terror watchdog, has decided to retain Pakistan on the “Enhanced Follow-up”’ list and asked Islamabad to strengthen its implementation of anti-money laundering and combating terror financing measures. Pakistan has been on the FATF’s “grey list” since June 2018 and finds itself isolated internationally on the issue of terrorism. In February this year, the Paris-headquartered global watchdog had retained Pakistan on its “grey list” till June after concluding that Islamabad failed to address its strategically important deficiencies to fully implement the 27-point action plan for total compliance with credible and verifiable actions. Pakistan’s continuation on the “grey list” means that it will not get any respite in trying to access finances in the form of investments and aid from international bodies, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The latest decision by the 41-member APG comes a few weeks ahead of a full-fledged meeting of the FATF to review the measures taken by Pakistan so far on the issue of terror funding and money laundering. Because of its duplicity and deviousness, Islamabad is facing the difficult task of clearing its name from the FATF grey list. Islamabad-based think tank Tabadlab revealed that the economic cost of being on the grey list since 2008 was around $38 billion. The figure was arrived at on the basis of a decrease in consumption expenditures, foreign direct investment and exports.
The reason Pakistan keeps entering the grey list is because of its failure to shut all access to funding of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC)-designated terrorist groups, including the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad. Its anti-terror law remains a sham and out of sync with standards set by the international body. There is an element of predictability to the charade being perpetrated by Islamabad. Ahead of every FATF meeting, it undertakes a cosmetic exercise of arresting a few terrorists. A total of 146 Pakistanis are on the United Nations most wanted terrorists list and none of the terrorists who target India had been punished. Even in the most blatant cases, the Pakistani system is not interested in punishing the guilty but acts solely to mislead the international community. The reasons for this state of affairs are not far to seek: the all-powerful Pakistani military, the patron of these terror groups, doesn’t want its role being curtailed by courts. Islamabad must realise the grave consequences of its policy of using terrorism as an instrument of state policy.
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