Fri, 26 Feb 2021

Can Joe Biden solve the Pakistan puzzle?

ANI
27 Jan 2021, 18:18 GMT+10

Washington [US], January 27 (ANI): The US considers Pakistan a "major non-NATO ally," a status bestowed upon only seventeen countries that facilitate military trade and cooperation.

However, in reality, Pakistan has not acted as an ally.

The listing of Pakistan in Financial Action Task Force (FATF) 'Grey List' clearly indicates the ambiguous policies of Islamabad and how they are checking terror funding and money laundering, reported an American bimonthly magazine, The National Interest.

It is against this backdrop that new US president Joe Biden, must now confront the Pakistan test, wrote Michael Rubin in an opinion piece in The National Interest. Within weeks, Biden will have to decide on Pakistan when FATF meets to address Pakistan's continued terror problem.

Further, Pakistani authorities are now utilizing their growing diplomatic embrace with China in order to protect themselves from FATF blacklisting.

Earlier, China rescued Pakistan in October 2020, but Biden should not allow it to do so again. Should that happen, then Biden will signal that America's re-embrace of multilateralism has less to do with enhancing international security and rule-of-law, and more to do with shirking responsibility and glossing over the decline of international security, said The National Interest.

With China's backing, Pakistan seeks to appease the FATF with the bare minimum. Prime Minister Imran Khan finds it easier to sell out his country's sovereignty to China than to make basic reforms demanded by the FATF to remain off the blacklist, wrote Rubin.

Pakistan has long exasperated FATF technocrats. The country's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency works fist-in-glove with myriad terrorist groups.

Rather than blacklisting Pakistan, the FATF has repeatedly kept Pakistan on its "Grey List" offering it just a little more time in the hope that Pakistani officials might both show they take countering terror finance seriously and that Pakistani civilian leader has the ability to rein in the country's security apparatus, reported The National Interest.

In July 2019, the Pakistani Senate passed two reforms demanded by the FATF, but Pakistani authorities then sought to utilize this symbolic action to shield themselves from demands for a more substantive crackdown on terror support.

After getting the most recent FATF extension in October 2020, Pakistan again took symbolic action to address some concerns, while leaving others unaddressed.

An anti-terrorism court sentenced Hafiz Saeed, one of those involved in the Mumbai attack, to ten years in prison for two terror-financing cases.

A court also sentenced two close aides, Zafar Iqbal and Yahya Mujahid, to ten and a half years each and Saeed's brother-in-law Abdul Rehman Makki to six months imprisonment.

As the FATF again prepares to meet in February 2021 to assess Pakistani progress, Khan's government now goes down the rabbit hole of conspiracy.

Pakistan has produced a dossier alleging that India is the true state-sponsor of terrorism and most US- and UN-designated terror groups operating inside Pakistan reported The National Interest.

The opinion piece by Rubin, says that the Pakistani government's long indulgence of political Islamism at the expense of the fabric of Pakistan's own society has led to creating a Frankenstein that is now not under their control.

The Pakistani military may have believed it could encourage radical Islamism to patch together divergent ethnic identities after the loss of Bangladesh, but it simply traded one problem for another.

Biden now has to decide on Pakistan so that it cannot avoid FATF blacklisting without actually addressing its core problems, i.e. financing terror. This, in turn, will determine whether the FATF can continue to be a credible body.

Moreover, the forthcoming US withdrawal from Afghanistan in the face of Taliban insurgency underscores how insincere Islamabad remains, reported The National Interest.

Biden talks like an internationalist, but at stake are not only accountability for Pakistan's terror complacency, but also the legitimacy of the FATF itself, said Rubin. (ANI)

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