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FATF Actions: Pakistan is under severe international pressure that India has helped mount

The issue of terror-funding would not be addressed, terrorist groups would continue to be able to access funds, launder money, etc, and basically become bigger monsters than they are already. And let’s not forget the nukes.

, ET Bureau|
Oct 19, 2019, 11.00 PM IST
0Comments
BCCL
Imran Khan
Increasingly too, a new tactic is discernible — Pakistan may not be placed formally on the blacklist, but FATF is unobtrusively but surely tightening the screws.
You know the world is twisted when a top Pakistani Twitter trend after the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) decision on Friday was #indiafailedatfatf, with everyone sharing interviews of loose-tongued Indian politicians.

It is only a marginal concern that FATF has retained Pakistan in the grey list, issuing a set of withering criticisms that should throw up red flags all over Pakistan. The roadmap is clear — after February 2020, when Pakistan’s current reprieve expires, it would face a series of actions that are currently used only against Iran.

Look at the FATF kicker in the last line of its post-plenary statement, where it excoriates Pakistan for barely comprehending the enormity of its actions or lack thereof: “… should significant and sustainable progress not be made across the full range of its action plan by the next Plenary, the FATF will take action, which could include the FATF calling on its members and urging all jurisdictions to advise their financial institutions to give special attention to business relations and transactions with Pakistan.”

This language is uncannily similar to what has been used against Iran, which, along with North Korea, are the only two in the blacklist.

Pakistan did not escape the FATF blacklist because China, Malaysia and Turkey stood by it, though that played a part. Almost all countries at the FATF plenary used this argument: throwing Pakistan off the cliff would crash its economy and whatever government-army cocktail is in charge there would come under increasing pressure.

The issue of terror-funding would not be addressed, terrorist groups would continue to be able to access funds, launder money, etc, and basically become bigger monsters than they are already. And let’s not forget the nukes.

It’s a familiar argument and used for Pakistan by a world that continues to need it for several things. It brought many of the countries together in Paris this past week. With FATF holding three plenaries and therefore six reviews in a year, Pakistan will have its nose to the grindstone regarding increased compliance.

Increasingly too, a new tactic is discernible — Pakistan may not be placed formally on the blacklist, but FATF is unobtrusively but surely tightening the screws.

The warning to financial institutions on transactions in Pakistan is a red flag that it can ignore at its own peril. But the army-Imran Khan combo are more likely to believe that since Pakistan gets regular billion-dollar lifelines from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and China, they can ride this through. Pakistan may not be on the blacklist, but they are not getting out of the grey list for a long time to come.

Meanwhile, in India, a sense of unrealism pervades. Nobody seriously following this issue in government ever thought Pakistan would get into the blacklist. But between ministers who should know better and mindless mavens on TV, public opinion was whipped up into a frenzy about supposed colour shades at the FATF — grey, light grey, dark grey, purple, black, jet black and what have you. None of which exists, by the way. FATF does not put anybody on a blacklist, a usage deemed politically incorrect since 2012.

A “public statement” has replaced the blacklist, as in the case of Iran, and proactive “counter measures” have replaced what used to be the jet black grade, as in the case of North Korea. India, however, has been the most assiduous in collecting and analysing information regarding Pakistan’s egregious actions on terror funding, among others, and this goes a long way in being able to nail Pakistan’s lies.

So, no, Indian FATF diplomacy has not failed, but our diplomacy would be much better served if spinmeisters actually knew what they were shouting about. Once again, highlighting the growing convergence between India and the US, both countries had coordinated their positions last week, despite the fact that the US State Department remains, as ever, in awe of Pakistan actually arresting a couple of terror leaders days before the FATF plenary. It was China’s first plenary as head of FATF, and, by all accounts, Xiangmin Liu acquitted himself rather well.

Will the continued pressure on Pakistan prevent it from openly exporting terrorism into India? You would think so, right? You would also, as always when it comes to Pakistan, be wrong.

Their desperation and pressure from the jihadi ecosystem is apparently proving too much for them. The security establishment in India has detected a quantum jump in terrorist infiltration into Kashmir in the past couple of months (and September figures aren’t out yet). Terror threat levels in the Kashmir valley are at an all-time high. The worry is the increased possibility of terror attacks in other parts of India as well.

The removal of Article 370 robbed Pakistan of a fundamental pillar of its domestic, international and security policy. It’s not going to give up without a fight. India has to expect that Pakistan will exploit every tool that it can remotely lay its hands on. But we can also expect Pakistan to overplay its hand, as its loyalists in the US recently did, by feeding that country’s lawmakers that the Indian government was playing “piped Hindu music” in the Valley to indoctrinate Muslims. Mamata Banerjee has been playing piped Rabindra Sangeet on Kolkata’s crossings for years. By now, the rest of the country should be singing, too.

Also Read

Sri Lanka removed from FATF's Grey List

Pakistan expects to avert FATF blacklisting with China's help

Pakistan not likely to be blacklisted at FATF plenary meeting

Pakistan to remain on FATF grey list till February

Pakistan under biggest pressure from FATF: Doval

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