Wages of sin

Pakistan has amended its anti-terror law to ban terrorists listed by the UN but such a move may not cut ice with international community

AuthorPublished: 15th Feb 2018  1:16 am

After earning a dubious tag of ‘Ivy League of global terrorism’ for nurturing terror outfits on its soil, Pakistan is now on the verge of being put on a global terrorist-financing watch list. This move could further dent its international image and hurt its economy. The United States and its European allies have just joined a list of countries to put forward a motion to place Pakistan on a global terrorist-financing watch list by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an intergovernmental body based in Paris that sets global standards for fighting illicit finance. Britain, Germany and France have already moved similar motions. Being on a global terror watch list means that it would be extremely difficult for Pakistan to get foreign investments and do business with global companies. Moreover, it reflects Islamabad’s failure to rein in the terror groups, which enjoy official patronage in the country. A plenary of FATF member states is slated for next week in Paris, where the organisation could adopt the motion on Pakistan. The FATF motion is essentially focused on Hafiz Saeed, the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks that killed 166 people. Already, the US has taken a tough stand against Pakistan on terrorism issue and suspended aid worth about $2 billion last month. The Trump administration’s new Budget for 2019 could see further aid cuts to Islamabad after an unequivocal snub over terror safe havens. Coming under growing international pressure, Pakistan has quietly amended its anti-terror law to ban those listed as terrorists by the UN, including Hafiz Saeed and the JuD.

Clearly, this is done to stave off the threat of being on terror watch list. However, such a clumsy and half-hearted move will not cut much ice with the international community. It is time Pakistan abandoned its long-held strategy of using terror as an instrument of state policy and nurturing different sets of terrorist groups operating against India and Afghanistan. It is well-known in international circles that Pakistan has been very selective in cracking down on militants who use its territory as a base. It has become a ritual for Islamabad to periodically launch a farcical crackdown on Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation, the front organisations of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which Saeed founded in 1987. Once the international pressure eases, it is business as usual again. According to a latest assessment of the US Intelligence agencies, Islamabad continues to provide safe havens to terrorist groups on its soil to plan and conduct attacks in India and Afghanistan. Pakistan will have to pay a heavy price for its unabashed nurturing of terror groups as there is a growing global consensus over the need for a united fight against terrorism.