Foreign policy for Pakistan was sent into a whirlwind after US President Donald Trump made a speech in August, condemning Pakistan for its weak policy on terrorism and accusing it of harbouring safe havens for certain terrorist groups. Since then, it has been a passive-aggressive approach with the United States. Now, however, it seems the accusation upon us is about to fare far worse consequences upon us.

The United States has put forward a motion to place Pakistan on a global terrorist-financing watch list with Financial Action Task Force (FATF). What is debilitating is that, despite Pakistan’s maneuvering efforts, three other countries, France, Britain and United Kingdom, have agreed to co-sponsor it.

It seems that Pakistan did see such a resolution coming. A week before, Hafiz Saeed, an internationally recognised terrorist, and his party were hurriedly banned, a mostly perfunctory gesture designated to appease a FATF review. Unfortunately, the move was too little, too late.

Being put into the watch list can have severely harmful consequences for Pakistan, mostly for our economy, which was finally getting a small lift. The watchdog list does not have the authority to impose sanctions but its listing can affect international transactions as it leads to many scrutiny and security measures for a country choosing to deal with the one on the watch list. This can damage investment in Pakistan very badly.

Being put on the FATF monitoring list would also make it and more expensive for Pakistan to borrow money from the international debt markets. Other than the economic downfalls, it also impacts the positive image of stability that Islamabad was putting effort in the last few years of perpetuating.

Pakistani authorities recognise the implications and are responding to it. Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa, in a Munich Security conference, asked the US to stop blaming Pakistan for its problems in Afghanistan and instead search for the reasons for its failures. Pakistan is also maneuvering in FATF for friendly states, such as China or Russia, to take a stance against the resolution. There are obstacles to face however, since some countries, like India, never lose an opportunity to lobby against Pakistan’s favour.

If the main contention for the FATF motion was Hafiz Saeed, which our representative to FATF claims it is, then Pakistan must show actual ground action against Saeed, to prove our talk on the FATF table. Despite local support, Saeed is becoming a liability, and is not worth saving in the face of a falling economy.