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Three reasons why Pakistan is key for its critics

According to analysts, the easing of pressure on Pakistan by countries, including the US, has more to do with factors other than Islamabad changing tack and abandoning terrorist groups operating from its soil (AP)Premium
According to analysts, the easing of pressure on Pakistan by countries, including the US, has more to do with factors other than Islamabad changing tack and abandoning terrorist groups operating from its soil (AP)

  • Pakistan could emerge from the 'grey list' of countries and jurisdictions closely monitored by FATF for allowing transfer of funds for terrorist groups
  • Here’s a look at some of the reasons

NEW DELHI : Why is Pakistan, till recently a pariah state, now so important for its critics like the US?

From the looks of it, Pakistan could emerge from the “grey list" of countries and jurisdictions closely monitored by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) for allowing transfer of funds for terrorist groups. Pakistan was placed on the “grey" list in June 2018 when it committed to implementing measures to curb the flow of funds to terrorists groups like Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Toiba.

In October, an FATF report had said Pakistan was fully compliant only on one of 40 parameters or benchmarks set by the FATF and was given time till February 2020 to comply with the rest. In its meeting in Beijing this week, the FATF found Pakistan making progress and said Islamabad had taken satisfactory steps towards curbing the flow of finances to terrorists. India was reportedly the lone voice questioning Pakistan’s compliance record with the US, Australia, Japan and others giving Pakistan a free pass. This possibly clears the decks for Pakistan to be moved out of the “grey“ list in the FATF’s plenary meeting in Paris on 16 February.

According to analysts, the easing of pressure on Pakistan by countries, including the US, has more to do with factors other than Islamabad changing tack and abandoning terrorist groups operating from its soil.

Here’s a look at some of the reasons:

1.Afghanistan: With the US looking for an exit for its troops from Afghanistan after an exhausting 18 years in the country, Pakistan is seen as the key to help deliver a peace deal that will enable Washington to pull out. Islamabad is seen as wielding considerable influence over the Taliban with many analysts of the view that the powerful Pakistan military supports the Taliban with funds and weapons. With the US and Taliban once again at the negotiating table, easing pressure on Pakistan at the FATF would be one way to get Islamabad to push the Taliban to reach a deal with Washington. Prior to the Beijing meeting, Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was in the US for meetings with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan also had a meeting with US president Donald Trump on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum summit in Davos this week. News reports had said these were part of Pakistan’s lobbying efforts prior to the Beijing FATF meet.

2. Intelligence sharing: Given the Pakistani military’s “closeness" to terrorist groups operating within the country, many western countries, including the US and UK, have intelligence sharing ties with Pakistan. Many plots by Pakistan-based groups as well as others have been reported to have been averted, thanks to timely tips from Pakistan. In 2006, when British intelligence uncovered a plot to detonate liquid explosives on some half a dozen transatlantic flights, news reports said it was Pakistani intelligence that tipped off their British counterparts who then laid an elaborate surveillance net to trap the suspects. Subsequent to this, other terrorist plots by British Muslims were said to have been uncovered, thanks to the close cooperation between the intelligence agencies.

3. Nuclear weapon state with terrorist groups: That Pakistan is a nuclear weapon state with many “non state" actors and terrorist groups has been a key worry for western countries. Analysts have long painted nightmare scenarios of how, if the Pakistani state collapses, its nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of terrorist groups. Hence, the propping up of the Pakistani government with funds and support is crucial. Putting Pakistan in the black list of the FATF is hence not an option given the fact that investors will be wary of putting in money into such a justification. The International Monetary Fund that negotiated a $6 billion loan to Pakistan last year would have to stop its transfers, jeopardising an already fragile Pakistani economy.

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