There is a clear pattern to Pakistan’s periodic enactment of farcical drama of arresting some terrorists. Whenever international pressure builds up, Islamabad comes up with a few announcements of arrests of terrorists operating from its soil. This is done just to hoodwink the international community that it is serious about reining in the terror outfits. However, the world has learnt to see through this diabolic cover-up operation. With an eye on the next meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global terror funding watchdog, Pakistan has made some symbolic arrests of notorious terrorists to make it appear as if it is adhering to the action plan prescribed by the FATF. At present, Pakistan is on the grey list of the Paris-based global watchdog. The FATF is meeting later this month and in February to review Islamabad’s compliance with the action plan. The February plenary will vote to decide whether to remove or keep Pakistan on the terror financing grey list — or even move it to FATF’s blacklist. Ahead of every FATF meeting, Pakistan puts up a public show of anti-terrorist moves by carrying out symbolic arrests. No wonder that Punjab state’s counterterrorism department suddenly woke up to the presence of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, Lashkar-e-Taiba operations commander and mastermind of the Mumbai 26/11 carnage who has been roaming around freely, and ordered his arrest. Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Sayeed was arrested in a similar fashion just before the FATF met last October.
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 recent order by the Sindh high court to release Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and three accomplices, all convicted for the murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl, illustrates the apathy of judicial system. The reasons are not far to seek: non-state actors are created and nurtured by the all-powerful Pakistani military. Neither the civilian administration nor the judiciary has the guts to override the Rawalpindi elite. Pakistan has emerged as the global terrorism hub with as many as 146 Pakistanis being on the United Nations’ list of most wanted terrorists. This includes Lakhvi and Sayeed. Among those who openly target India, very few are arrested, almost none convicted and punished. The world has been watching in utter frustration how Islamabad continues to provide safe haven to terrorist entities and individuals and is yet to take any credible action against those proscribed by the United Nations Security Council. Even China and Saudi Arabia refrained from coming out in support of Pakistan, which has been under pressure from the international community for over two years to implement a plan to curb money laundering and terror financing.
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