Reprieve for Pak

by January 25, 2020 0 comments

With the US and EU now backing its counter-terrorism compliances at FATF, it may get out of the grey list

In the end, India has to evolve its own dynamic regarding Pakistan and its sponsored terror instead of focussing solely on isolating it diplomatically and amassing international opinion on its side. For the fluidity of geopolitics means that each nation would work out its tactical advantage in an evolving context and might not prioritise India’s concerns. And global politics is but transactional and revolving stakes mean shifting alliances. To that extent, even India’s wins are dictated by its economic potential. So it comes as no surprise that at a meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) — the global watchdog that tracks terror-funding States and can disqualify them from aid by World Bank and global institutions — members expressed satisfaction over Pakistan’s corrective compliances and counter-terrorism efforts. India’s was the lone voice of protest. What is of significance is that Pakistan has been able to convince the US, EU, Australia and even Japan about its efforts to curb terrorism. The change in position seems drastic considering last October, the FATF had found Pakistan wanting in most criteria — it had cleared only six of the 27 parameters — and pushed it dangerously closer to the dark grey and black lists. Now the chances of Pakistan “exiting” the grey list are brighter. This indeed would be a blow to India’s diplomatic lobbying and efforts. The support of China, its all-weather friend and FATF president, Turkey and Malaysia, with which Pakistan aspires to claim leadership of a neo-Islamic world, was but expected. But the US, while endorsing India’s position on Kashmir at the UN, is too invested in stitching up a deal with the Taliban in the final stages before it exits Afghanistan. So it needs Pakistan now. That explains the clean chit in Beijing and even the acknowledgement of Pakistan’s “great efforts” at course correction. The US may also have yielded ground at FATF because freezing aid to Pakistan could aggravate economic instability in the region with a cascading impact on politics. Pakistan has been driving home its arguments on this count with its Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar lobbying in Beijing over the past few days. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has been appealing to US President Donald Trump in Davos to help the country get off the “grey list.” China, of course, has been the accelerator, certifying Pakistan’s “political will and active efforts.” Not only this, it has been arguing for a renegotiation of the FATF brief itself, saying the grouping had no business to blacklist nations but should help them counter-terrorist funding and networks. India must realise that the shades of the FATF list mean nothing in terms of threat levels ever since the definition of blacklist was diluted as a “call for action” and the grey list was downgraded to “other monitored jurisdictions.”

If indeed Pakistan gets out of the grey list, it can avail international funding and clamber out of a choked economy. The conduits to Kashmir could be red hot again, not that they had stopped completely. And though we would want to believe that the Pakistani economy is stuttering, the fact is Moody’s upgraded its status from negative to stable, the Arab benefactors have sent grants with even Russia meaning to invest in north-south gas pipelines. Global penalties won’t impact Pakistan’s proxy war with India; the Government-military configuration will always keep that on the boil, prioritising it as a strategic interest. Even while staying on the FATF watch, there has been no cessation of terrorist infiltration into Kashmir. A listing won’t change that ground reality. Besides, as Khan’s sustained efforts to raise Kashmir at international fora show, the abrogation of Article 370 has completely taken down the pillar of Pakistan’s domestic and international policy. It certainly wouldn’t want to let go of the anti-India pitch as its bargaining worth. India has to be prepared for every such manoeuvre. At the same time, it has to ensure that there is no change in the international opinion of “Kashmir is a bilateral issue” argument, the pin-pricking offers of mediation by Trump notwithstanding. For this, the Government needs to demonstrate that it is not at war with the Valley and restore civil rights. This would go a long way in assuaging domestic critics in the US and EU, both of which are being pushed uncomfortably on human rights in Kashmir, and may have compulsions to humour the activist lobby as well. India, too, could make some move to demonstrate its seriousness about bilateral talks and seem to practise what it preaches. Our hardening stance would mean that the world will have a relaxed attitude towards our neighbour. In reality, the deterrence for Pakistan has to be our own measured call.

(Courtesy: The Pioneer)

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