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Editorial

February 22, 2018

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Narrow escape

The US-led effort to place Pakistan on a ‘grey list’ of countries that do not comply with terrorist-funding regulations has been temporarily defeated at a meeting of the Financial Action Task Force in Paris, and Pakistan granted a three-month reprieve after the US could not garner enough support for its motion to pass. Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif has portrayed this as a major diplomatic victory – and it is certainly true that any kind of success on the international stage is rare for Pakistan. But this is far from a complete vindication. We will have to demonstrate over the next three months that we are taking affirmative measures to cut off funding for militant groups. The interim stay given by the FATF may have been spurred by the recent presidential ordinance banning all groups who are on the UN Security Council list of terrorist groups. Now the country will have to demonstrate that it is seizing the funds of groups like Jamaat-ud-Dawah and stifling their fundraising. Being placed on the grey list would disrupt the inflow of money from abroad, frustrate potential investors and lead to our financial isolation. While we should be doing everything possible to thwart militant groups no matter what, the threat of action by the FATF should act as an extra incentive.

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The US action has clearly been spurred by the anti-Pakistan animus of the Donald Trump administration, which seems to be trying to use international institutions as a tool of punishment. The US insistence that Pakistan is not doing enough to fight the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani Network has led to harsh tweets from Trump, the suspension of security aid and now this attempt at the FATF. But instead of being aggrieved at US bullying, perhaps it is time we practised some introspection as well. Pakistan has been placed on the grey list once before at the start of the decade. For too long has the country banned militant groups and then allowed them to resume fundraising and recruitment under a new name. Our banking system too is known for not complying with international protocols for money laundering. And it certainly doesn’t help matters that institutions of the state are not always on the same page, leading to paralysis in our anti-terror efforts and a lack of global confidence in the stability and safety of Pakistan. The brief stay of execution offered by the FATF should lead to a reckoning. We either need to spare no effort in disrupting terror networks or face the censure of the international community.

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