Even by Pakistan’s extraordinary standards, what happened last week was an unparalleled disaster at – and around – the FATF meet. It was, as a matter of fact, caused by an unparalleled move by the US, where it called a second meeting on whether or not Pakistan should be grey-listed as a country that isn’t quite doing enough to curb financing for terrorist groups.
The US move, in turn, stemmed from our very own foreign minister believing it is a great idea to leak the details of a counter-terror meeting, while it was still going on. This unfortunately won’t be remembered along the same lines as Dawn Leaks, for Khawaja Asif decided to bellow the self-congratulation on Twitter.
To gauge just how preposterous the tweet was, one only needs to read it. A “three-month pause” was being celebrated by the foreign minister of a country that was three months away from being grey-listed, which could eventually lead to blacklisting as well.
Furthermore, it’s important to underscore that this ‘three-month reprieve’ – as the foreign minister later put it – wasn’t owing to any lobbying efforts, but simply because Pakistan did not show up with a plan that FATF could scrutunise, and one that Islamabad would now be presenting in June.
What is also embarrassing is the fact that during the second meeting called by the US, Saudi Arabia and China refused to back Pakistan.
The same China that is an all-weather friend, throw in the honey on Himalayas on it, and is currently in the process of financing the most stupendous road network seen since the Paleolithic Age, and providing it all the power, making it Pakistan’s lifeline coming straight from a superpower.
The all-weather friend said it didn’t want to ‘lose face’ by supporting Pakistan for many reasons, one of which was the fact that it would’ve been pointless, since three votes were needed to block the move and Islamabad only had Turkey’s – the new all-weather friend?
This was because Saudi Arabia had backed out before China did.
It was probably owing to perhaps Pakistan not sending enough troops to Saudi Arabia a week before the FATF meeting, to guard its ‘territorial integrity’ and ‘training purposes’ which roughly translates into helping Saudis kill more Yemenis by fortifying its defence, and teaching its jets how to bomb civilians – if not covertly flying those jets on their behalf altogether.
Or maybe the troops weren’t Sunni enough?
It was the US that talked Saudi out of backing Pakistan in Paris. They probably offered to kill more Yemenis.
Whatever the offering might’ve been, Islamabad now has the small matter of convincing a group spearheaded by the country that has repeatedly called it out for providing ‘safe havens to terrorists’ that it is actually doing more to counter terrorism – and this needs to be done within the next three months.
So what should Pakistan do in these next three months?
Completely turnaround the power dynamics in the country, with the 70-year inertia that accompanies it?
It was reconfirmed in the FATF meeting that on top of the pile, as far as militant groups in Pakistan are concerned, are the groups affiliated with Hafiz Saeed.
In this regard, the Anti-Terrorism Ordinance, which outlawed UN sanctioned groups as terrorists in Pakistan – including Saeed’s – might’ve been a decent move, had it not come virtually on the brink of the FATF meet in a repeat of 2017 where the Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief was put under house arrest just days before the meeting.
But of course in all this Pakistan has to put its own interests above others’. And currently Pakistan’s interests are in mainstreaming those groups into politics, and making them legislators, while the world’s interests are in complete purge of outfits that have the blood of tens of thousands of Pakistanis on their hands.
Inaction against these groups – led by Hafiz Saeed – is resulting in Pakistan’s isolation. Finally, conclusive proof that Dawn Leaks was a farce.
The writer is a Lahore-based journalist.