The Financial Action Task Force, functioning under the chairmanship of the People’s Republic of China, has once again shirked its duty by refusing to consider the facts on Pakistan’s sponsorship of terror and placing that country on the black list. Some residual sense of shame may have prevented countries such as Turkey, Malaysia and China, all three of whom are members of the “See, Hear and Speak No Evil About Pakistan” lobby. Such a craven surrender to the exigencies of personal relationships and geopolitical compromises has resulted in the FATF losing not only much of its prestige but also its effectiveness as an instrument designed to reduce the incidence of global terror. Detailed evidence that even China found difficult to ignore was presented to the FATF members, especially by the Indian delegation. Pakistan has failed in almost all the parameters mandated for it by the FATF in previous meetings. Its record is much worse than that of Iran and North Korea, who are on the black list while Pakistan is not. As expected in view of the Chinese chairmanship of the body (a situation which took place with the support of India), Imran Khan Niazi’s government was given a further lease of time to fulfil its obligations to the international community. The FATF has asked Pakistan to complete remedial action within four months, while being fully aware that this will not happen. There is an inextricable bond between the terror factories and the military in Pakistan. The synergy is hugely profitable for both sides. Those close to the Pakistan army are among the biggest beneficiaries of the narcotics grown in Afghanistan. More than any other cause, the bond that brings together the Pakistan army and the Taliban is the sharing of loot from the narcotics trade. Part of that loot gets used to buy support in locations such as London and New York, and to cause mayhem in India and Afghanistan. Along with Iran, these two countries are bearing the effects of a terror campaign launched by the Pakistan army against them. In the case of Afghanistan, the reason is that GHQ Rawalpindi wants to control that country and make liberal and untrammelled use of its territory to ensure a plentiful supply of both opium as well as suicide bombers who can get deployed to locations across the globe. In the case of India, the intention is to reduce the world’s third biggest economy in purchasing power parity terms to chaos, while in the case of Iran, the visceral hatred of the Wahhabi for the Shias is the main motivational factor behind the clandestine operations mounted from within Pakistan against the Islamic Republic of Iran. Had the FATF done its job well and taken a decision not based on expediency by China and a handful of other states, but on the basis of facts, at the very least Pakistan would have entered the FATF blacklist for the second time.
Of course, FATF president Xiangmin Liu of China talked tough while acting in a gentle manner. After refusing to place Pakistan on the black list, the FATF chairman delivered a few homilies to Pakistan for the record, to obscure the fact that for decades Beijing has protected the military in Pakistan and allowed it to continue on its destructive path. It is clear that China is worried that GHQ Rawalpindi may convert Xinjiang into yet another front, together with those already active in Iran, India and Afghanistan. The fact is that the train of terror has already left the ISI station and is bound for Xinjiang. Camps in Taliban-controlled regions of Afghanistan are training those from Xinjiang in the tactics of terror, and it is merely a question of time before such networks become active. Seeking to appease terror by feeding it is a bad idea, and hopefully President Xi Jinping, after his successful meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will ensure that the long-term backing given to the Pakistan army even in its unsavoury operations will end. China is taking steps to ensure that it resolutely opposes acts of terror against Russia. In the same way, President Xi needs to pull up those in the People’s Liberation Army who are blind to the excesses committed by Pakistan. The surest path towards a strong, stable relationship with India is for China to call out the terror machine in Pakistan the way India has been doing. While Pakistan claims to be a victim of terror, what goes unsaid is that this is self-created terror. The very extremists groomed and nurtured by GHQ Rawalpindi sometimes bite the hand that feeds it by launching terror strikes in Pakistan as well. In particular, several Pashtuns are unhappy at the second class status they enjoy as compared to Punjabi Wahhabis, and are mobilising to fight for a separate Pashtunistan that will incorporate territory across both sides of the Durand Line, which should long ago have ceased to exist and the land returned to Afghanistan. The FATF is on test. If Pakistan fails to meet the minimal conditions set for it by that august body, it should be placed on the black list during the next meeting. China should lead in such a process, given the fact that India, China and Russia need to work together in the global war on terror in a context where President Donald Trump has ensured that ISIS gets a second life through hasty and ruinous policies in Syria that have thrown a US ally under the bus in a most shameful manner.