Fear of sanc­tions makes Pak ‘crack down’ on Saeed out­fits

US Re­mains Leery Of Is­lam­abad’s Preten­sions Of Rolling Up Ter­ror­ism

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - TIMES NATION - Chi­danand Ra­jghatta & Omer Fa­rooq Khan

Wash­ing­ton/Is­lam­abad: The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s tough ap­proach to­wards Pak­istan on ter­ror­ism may be yield­ing some re­sults. Cas­ti­gated and called out pub­licly by the new dis­pen­sa­tion in Wash­ing­ton — in con­trast to the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion’s kid glove treat­ment — Is­lam­abad is pur­port­edly rolling up its state-spon­sored ter­ror groups in the face of im­mi­nent fi­nan­cial sanc­tions and black­list­ing for its use of ter­ror prox­ies in the re­gion.

Pak­istan on Wed­nes­day made a big show of seiz­ing as­sets and funds of Ja­maatud-Dawa and Falah-e-In­sa­niat Foun­da­tion run by the 26/11 Mum­bai at­tacks mas­ter­mind Hafiz Saeed. Ja­maatud-Dawa is be­lieved to be a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is in­volved in ter­ror­ist at­tacks in Kash­mir. How­ever, Saeed is still free, and ac­cord­ing some re­ports, in hid­ing.

The op­er­a­tion of Saeed’s huge net­work of schools, sem­i­nar­ies, hos­pi­tals, pub­li­ca­tions and ve­hi­cles in Pak­istan was a mat­ter of se­ri­ous con­cern for the US. Wash­ing­ton had of­fered $10 mil­lion for in­for­ma­tion lead­ing to Saeed’s ar­rest and con­vic­tion.

Pun­jab’s provin­cial law min­is­ter Rana Sanaullah said, “We have re­ceived the in­te­rior min­istry di­rec­tions, and ac­cord­ing to that Hafiz Saeed and his char­i­ties, like JuD and FIF, have been banned to op­er­ate in Pak­istan.”

How­ever, Amer­i­can mis­trust of Pak­istani bona fides in wind­ing down ter­ror groups was ev­i­dent in com­ments from se­nior of­fi­cials who con­tin­ued to speak of Pak­istan non-com­pli­ance with the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tions on ter­ror­ism.

The im­me­di­ate rea­son for Pak­istan be­ing gal­va­nized into pre­tend­ing it has given up on its pol­icy of us­ing ter­ror groups is the up­com­ing meet­ing in Paris of the Fi­nan­cial Ac­tion Task Force (FATF) start­ing Fe­bru­ary 18. Hav­ing long bluffed the global com­mu­nity that is does not sup­port or host ter­ror groups, a claim made by its army chief as re­cently as Mon­day, Pak­istan has had its feet held to the fire in re­cent weeks by Wash- in­g­ton, which not only sus­pended bi­lat­eral aid but warned greater pain with the sup­port of UK, In­dia, and rest of the global com­mu­nity.

“The US has con­sis­tently ex­pressed our long-stand­ing con­cern about on­go­ing de­fi­cien­cies in Pak­istan’s im­ple­men­ta­tion of its anti-money laun­der­ing/coun­tert­er­ror­ism fi­nance (AML/CFT) regime,” a State Depart­ment spokesper­son said on Wed­nes­day, while warn­ing that the Fe­bru­ary Ple­nary of FATFwill be de­ter­min­ing ap­pro­pri­ate next steps.

The re­marks sug­gested Wash­ing­ton re­mains leery of Is­lam­abad’s preten­sions of rolling up ter­ror­ism, a view ex­pressed by the US Di­rec­tor of Na­tional In­tel­li­gence Dan Coats at a hear­ing on Tues­day when he ac­cused Pak­istan’s mil­i­tary of hold­ing back counter-ter­ror­ism co­op­er­a­tion with Wash­ing­ton while con­tin­u­ing to go easy on mil­i­tant groups based in the coun­try.

“Pak­istan-based mil­i­tant groups con­tinue to take ad­van­tage of their safe haven to con­duct at­tacks in In­dia, in Afghanistan, and in­clud­ing US in­ter­ests therein,” Coats said, while sur­mis­ing that the “on­go­ing Pak­istani mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions against the Tal­iban and as­so­ci­ated groups prob­a­bly re­flect the de­sire to ap­pear more proac­tive and re­spon­sive to our re- quests for more ac­tions against these groups.”

News that Pak­istan is in the FATF fir­ing line was first dis­closed by Pak­istani of­fi­cials — partly to ex­plain to its peo­ple the ac­tion against Saeed’s out­fits — who claimed that the US and In­dia are spear­head­ing an ef­fort to get Pak­istan in­cluded in the FATF “grey list”. While vir­tu­ally con­firm­ing the re­port, US of­fi­cials in­di­cated there was a broader in­ter­na­tional con­sen­sus over bring­ing Pak­istan to book.

One US of­fi­cial told a news agency that “in ad­di­tion to broader sys­temic con­cerns, this also in­cludes Pak­istan’s non-com­pli­ance with its com­mit­ments un­der UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil Res­o­lu­tion 1267”. The res­o­lu­tion broadly en­joins sanc­tions against coun­tries that fail to take steps against des­ig­nated ter­ror groups.

De­spite be­ing forced to act against its prox­ies, Pak­istani of­fi­cials con­tin­ued their blus­ter be­fore the global com­mu­nity, with the coun­try’s in­te­rior min­is­ter Ah­san Iqbal warn­ing in an in­ter­view on CNN that “any uni­lat­eral ac­tion in Pak­istan (by the US) will be a red line for Pak­istan”. Any ef­fort to try to bully Pak­istan or force Pak­istan will be coun­ter­pro­duc­tive, Ah­san said.

Not since 1993, when the then Bush Sr ad­min­is­tra­tion con­sid­ered des­ig­nat­ing Pak­istan a state spon­sor of ter­ror­ism, has Is­lam­abad been in such dire straits. Sanc­tions un­der FATF would se­verely im­pair the coun­try’s al­ready par­lous econ­omy.

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