FATF sanctions via the Grey List are in fact economic restrictions and it is a well-known internationally-recognised fact that economic restrictions are basically applied only to cripple the economy of a country. Pakistan has experienced direct economic sanctions/restrictions by the USA in the past. History reveals that the US has abruptly changed its policy towards Pakistan and has imposed sanctions with ill-motives. The attitude of America can easily be understood from 1988 to 2001, which revolved around the sanctions on Pakistan. During that era, the US imposed many sanctions on Pakistan to bring it under pressure. Pakistan’s nuclear programme, missile proliferation, the saga of the Kashmir issue, and continuing bilateral nuclear standoff all became the cause of Pak-US strained relations from 1988-2001. In 1974, the US imposed an embargo and sanctions on Pakistan to interrupt its nuclear weapons programme. In 1990 again, right after the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan, the US banned the delivery of military equipment worth $368 million and 28 F-16 air-crafts to Pakistan for which the country had already paid. During the President Clinton era, the Symington Amendment was imposed on Pakistan which states that uranium enhancement technology and nuclear weapons are not allowed to acquire or develop. This amendment was imposed due to the 1998 nuclear tests of Pakistan. Currently, Pakistan is under strict visa restrictions by the US under the Trump administration. The other countries under US Visa restrictions include Guyana in 2001, the Gambia in 2016, Cambodia, Eritrea, Guinea, and Sierra Leone in 2017, Burma and Laos in 2018. The United States has currently imposed commercial, economic, and financial embargo against Cuba. The United States has also applied economic, trade, scientific, and military sanctions against Iran. In 2019, these sanctions led to a sharp downturn in Iran’s economy, pushing the value of its currency to record lows, hiked inflation rate, reduced foreign investments, and triggering public protests.

When in 2006, North Korea conducted its nuclear test, this attracted global attention, and as a result, sanctions were imposed on the country from the United Nations and many of its members, including the United States. The sanctions were aimed purely at destabilisation of the economy of North Korea and to stop its efforts to develop nuclear weapons. This time, the US, with the active connivance of India, managed to implement indirect sanctions via FATF by bringing Pakistan in the grey list. I term it a tactic to first put Pakistan on the grey list and then make efforts to put it on the blacklist, which means heavy sanctions on Pakistan.

Successive governments of ours failed to get out of it as the right strategy is not adopted with effective international countermeasures. Basically, it was a deliberate attempt to prove our status as a terrorism-sponsoring state by attempting to establish our abetment in money laundering and then linking it to terrorism. As a nation, we must know that this is being done with ulterior motives to destabilise Pakistan by further crippling our economy.

The term economic terrorism is strictly defined to execute an attempt at economic destabilisation of a country, region, or a group by a certain group and it could be even a hostile country. Economic terrorism has been commonly used by state or non-state actors to secretly manipulate a nation’s economy. In fact, this is part of the modern fifth generation warfare through proxy wars. In pursuit of political aims, the economic terrorism targets civilians of nations, developing countries and emerging economies is the prime target of the hostile states and groups. This is how sanctions derail the economies of the country as they are the most affected by it because the slowing of exports and imports collapses the country’s ability to combat poverty. Sometimes the developed nations deliberately put sanctions on developing nations in order to use political moves against them by bringing their economy to the level of disintegration. Hence, the increase in poverty and destabilisation can cause revolts among the population and possible political destabilisation which results in an even more deteriorating situation just like we are gearing into it by hostile elements. On one side we are under pressure by the IMF/World Bank and USAID, and now, the final economic bouncer has come our way by FATF.

When FATF blacklists any country, it is extremely likely that it will be subject to economic sanctions and other prohibitive measures by FATF member states and other international organisations. It is now an established fact that money laundering is a trans-international crime and hence only Pakistan cannot be singled out and blamed for money laundering whereas India, despite international money laundering reports has not been reprimanded for their crimes against FATF and UN charters.

In this context, Pakistan has fought the ‘War on Terror’ at the frontline as an ally of the US and UN, and our country has suffered heavily in terms of economy and loss of human life. As an ally, Pakistan has the right to expose countries or state-actors, who have tried to undermine the struggle against terror by indulging in money laundering in pursuit of their hidden agendas across the globe. I had earlier written an article wherein I had stated that it is unfortunate that we sacrificed more than 70,000 of our troops and civilians and yet we are facing FATF. This is despite the fact that Pakistan has been taking numerous legal and administrative measures against terrorism. The trend and the anti-Pakistan signals demonstrated in the report clearly show that FATF is not going to take Pakistan out of the grey list unless Pakistan and the US come to terms on pending matters. Pakistan will have to make extra efforts for its economic survival. The continuity of Pakistan being in the FATF’s Grey List will bring huge financial problems for Pakistan which is already passing through the financial crisis. I hope the Government of Pakistan will take some sensible, pragmatic, and evidence-based measures before the FATF with the help of China which has already warned member countries not to politicise FATF and not to use the forum against Pakistan. China has clearly stated, “China does not want the FATF to be politicised by any single country. There are some countries which want to include Pakistan in the blacklist. They have political designs which China is against.”

Pakistan must know that this is not FATF which needs to be satisfied but it is the USA that needs to be handled diplomatically by sorting our side issues with it. The higher ups in government must have a meeting at the highest level with the US, otherwise we will continue to make amendments in our laws but FATF will keep fattening its list of demands and we may find ourselves land in the blacklist over some minor compliance. Hence, we should handle the US, FATF, and the international community through our closely associated countries. We have messed up on our international matters before including on the Kulbhushan issue.

The US has complete hold over FATF, therefore, whatever measures or compliance are being taken by the government will not work unless we resolve the issue of Afghanistan. India and the US have a common agenda to get Pakistan into the FATF blacklist.

I pray and wish that FATF accepts our efforts and removes Pakistan from its grey list.

Note: Opinions expressed are solely my own and not necessarily to reflect the views or opinions of my party.