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‘All-Weather’ Friends No More?

by Newsweek Pakistan
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Pakistan may now be too unstable to take the actions required by the FATF

Pakistan has confirmed that, come June, it will be placed on the watchlist of “countries where banned militant outfits have been raising funds” and financing terrorist activities. At the Paris meeting of the 37-nation Financial Action Task Force (FATF), China and Saudi Arabia first withheld support from placing Pakistan on the “gray list,” then begged off, with Beijing telling Islamabad it would have been gray-listed with or without its support. Only Turkey stood its ground, but that was not enough. The United States tried hard to push Pakistan into the pariah list and succeeded.

Fond of isolation as a warrior nation, Pakistan has been defiant, saying it is doing more than anyone else to fight terrorism. But it now appears sufficiently worried about the prevailing situation to “complete” certain actions required as per United Nations protocols. Unfortunately, as an unstable state, Pakistan is no longer sovereign enough internally to take the required action. It can’t stop the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government “mainstreaming” the terrorists with millions of dollars to prevent them from interfering in the coming elections with suicide-bombings. In the 2013 polls, verbal “support” to terrorists exempted the now-ruling party from carnage while the other three—PMLN, ANP and PPP—were hunted down, couldn’t run their campaigns, and lost. When Pakistan says “mainstreaming”—getting terrorists to give up killing and join normal life—it is equating its “Islamic warriors” with common criminals.

Even if Pakistan wants to come clean strategically, it might face resistance—and counterattack—from state elements no longer taking orders from the state. When then-Army Chief General Musharraf—the anti-hero of the Kargil war of 1999—decided to change tack with India, he was attacked three times from within the Army, which then failed to punish the attackers it had caught. Today, the lame-duck elected government is keen to follow the FATF program but is in trouble; and the next government will likely have to appear defiantly isolationist to avoid being toppled.

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