US stands firm as Pakistan begs for Fatf mercy while Hafiz Saeed continues to preach hate
WASHINGTON: The Trump administration’s hardball approach to ending Pakistan’s nurturing of terrorism has sent Islamabad scrambling across the world to beg for mercy and succour,
but Washington remains unmoved by its entreaties while Pakistan’s terrorist principal Hafiz Saeed remains free to preach his gospel of hate.US officials continue to hold Islamabad’s feet to fire on the terror financing issue
even as Pakistani officials arrived on Monday to plead their case in Paris,+ where the 35-member Financial Action Task Force (FATF) – a global body that combats terrorist financing and money laundering – is considering a US resolution grey list Pakistan for essentially bankrolling terrorism.
While US officials politely pointed out to ''ongoing deficiencies in Pakistan’s implementation of its anti-money laundering/counterterrorism finance regime,'' – something Islamabad says it has fixed – they also expressed broader systemic concerns about Pakistan’s non-compliance with its commitments under UN Security Council Resolution 1267 broadly aimed at ending support for terrorists and groups.
Those commitments remained unmet even as the Fatf meeting got underway going by the videos of Saeed, a designated terrorist, preaching his message of hate that Islamist groups continue to distribute online.
In one recent video, Hafiz mocks Pakistan government’s seizing of his organisation Jamaat-ul-Dawa’s assets, saying if the government shuts one door, ''Allah will open 100 doors.'
' He also spews his rhetoric of hate, blaming Islamabad’s move as being forced by ''yahoodis and kaffirs,'' a reference to Jews and Hindus.
The Pakistani delegation arrived in Paris after stops in various European capitals to lobby for relief even as the US has roped in Germany and Britain to co-sponsor the resolution. The Pakistani media reported that of the 35 permanent members of the FATF, ''only China supports Pakistan whereas the rest are likely to fall behind the US resolution,''
even as many of its TV talking heads blamed India for the ''saazish'' (conspiracy) to put Pakistan in trouble.
On Saturday, Pakistan tried a new gambit to escape the terror financing tag, pleading with the US that putting it on the Fatf grey list would humiliate it in the eyes of the hardliners who have argued that there is no percentage in toeing the US line.
Many of these hardliners claim China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey will come to Pakistan’s rescue.''We’ll have egg on our faces,''
Miftah Ismail, Pakistan’s finance and economic advisor who is pleading the country’s case in Paris implored in the New York Times. ''We pushed for these reforms, although many thought we wouldn’t be successful changing Washington’s behaviour.''
But while the country’s bureaucrats were begging for relief, Pakistan’s military and political establishment was all bluster while blaming each other for the crisis that its analysts said will imperil the country’s finances.
Pakistan’s interior minister Ahsan Iqbal warned that putting the country on the Fatf ''grey list'' would be counterproductive and would damage country’s economy while making no mention of the free run that UN-designated terrorists have in Pakistan.
One argument Pakistan’s establishment is making is that cracking down too hard on terror groups and their leaders whom the country’s military has long patronized as the first line of offense against India and Afghanistan will destabilise the country if they turn their attention inwards.
The US is not impressed with the argument and wants action beyond a token seizing of assets.
''We may consider lifting the suspension when we see decisive and sustained actions to address our concerns, including targeting all terrorist groups operating within its territory, without distinction,''
US Under Secretary of State John Sullivan told a Senate hearing recently, adding, ''we have shared with Pakistan our South Asia strategy in detail and have made our expectations clear.''That effectively means acknowledging India's primacy in the region and rolling up terror groups, something no one expects Pakistan to do.