While FATF has postponed the review of Pakistan’s remaining action plan items in view of COVID-19 to September 2020, Islamabad is not off the hook. They still need to take action on the remaining action plan items by Sept 2020. Pakistan’s 27 point Action Plan deadline had already expired in September 2019.
In Feb 2020, the FATF noted that Pakistan addressed only 14 of 27 action items given to it for controlling funding to terror groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba(LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad(JeM), responsible for series of attacks in India.
Pakistan’s answer to directions of FATF, coupled with its dependence on Terror organizations, as the sole breadwinner on account of diplomatic assets, is rub it off-new paint on. Cheeky Baptism welcomes The resistance Front (TRF) to the ever-evolving crib of Terrorism, by Pakistan.
FATF: The Bloody Noose Around Pakistan’s Neck
The multilateral watchdog FATF placed Pakistan on its “grey list” June 2018 for failing to counter fund-raising by groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM). During an assessment in February, FATF said Pakistan made “limited progress” in curbing terror financing and failed to show proper understanding of risks posed by banned groups such as LeT, JeM, Islamic State and al Qaeda.
After Pakistan was placed in the grey list, it was asked to implement a 27 point action plan to curb terror financing and money laundering. Following inspections by FATF and Asia Pacific Group (APG) in 2019, experts concluded Pakistan had not done enough to align its domestic laws with international counter-terror obligations and also had failed to do adequate on the ground to curb fund-raising or freeze assets of eight terror groups, LeT, JeM as well as Jamaat-ul-Dawah, Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation, al Qaeda, Islamic State, Haqqani Network, and the Taliban.
However, over the decades, Terrorism has so deeply permeated itself, within the psyche of Pakistan Army as well as its Politico-administrative setup, that the frenzied support of Pakistani public to it without, seems unimaginable. Over the decades, Radical Islam has been instituted as an inherent element of Pakistani society, and these terrorist groups are the spine of the successful Mullah-Military governance in Pakistan. Pakistan cannot do without them.
Bottom line being the fact that Terrorist Groups are essential to the reign of Mullah-Military nexus in Pakistan. Hence, to temporarily cease their face, from Kashmir’s terrorism landscape, and replace it with a new and unknown name, such as TRF may work, as it haD worked till now.
Divide and OverRule Sanctions
For Pakistan Army to remain Relevant in Kashmir and in Pakistan
Not so long ago in 2017, Hizbul Mujahidin (HM) was factioned by the ISI, with another breakaway coined under Terrorist Zakir Musa, who was named the head of Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, a newly fashioned cell of Al Qaeda. It is a well-known fact that by that time Pakistan had gained control of ISPK and was integrating it with the infrastructure it had acquired from Al Qaeda. Walia-al- Hind was another project that ISI tried their hands on, as another gimmick, to regenerate enthusiasm in Kashmir Valley.
For the next two years, Zakir Musa was active and Kashmir was seen waving the Black flags of ISIS and Al Qaeda. Post-August 5 last year, things have been much subdued, with average Kashmiri looking towards a new horizon of empowerment, under abrogation of Article 370.
With FATF sill behind its back, as well as waning popularity of protests and belief in Pakistani sponsored terrorism, it was forced to get back to its old game of dumping the run downs and get a new flick on the Broadway.
Hence many armed groups like TRF, Al-Fateh Tigers, Tehreek-i-Millat Islami (TMI), and JK Fighters Front (JKFF) have been given birth by the Pakistani ISI and Pakistan Army, in the region in the past few months. TRF having the support base of LeT cadres, have been tasked to be the frontrunner, while coordinated cadre restructuring and sourcing has been done from other groups, like Hizb’s top commander Abbas Sheikh. They have carried out multiple attacks in the region and have been engaged actively on the ground by the security agencies.
LeT is managing the recruitment in TRF and even in the case of Sheikh who actually wanted to shift from Hizb to LeT was redirected to TRF.
In one of its first statements, TRF claimed to be an “indigenous armed outfit” which has no affiliation with any other existing armed outfit in the region. It also refuted the claim of security agencies that saw it as an “offshoot” of LeT.
These statements have always been coming out in past, when Pakistan Army’s such endeavors have been pointed out to the FATF and other Terrorism watchdogs. Be it the creation of Ansar Ghazwat ul Hind from Hizb, Lashkar e Islam (LeI) from Hizb (in 2015) or Tehreek ul Mujahideen (TuM) being renamed as Walia-al- Hind of ISKP, all had parroted Pakistan Army’s ISI tune of being “let down by Pakistan in support to Kashmir Terrorism“, of course, if FATF and anti-Terrorism are listening.
The FATF continuing Pakistan in the Gray list means its downgrading by IMF, World Bank, ADB, EU, and also a reduction in risk rating by Moody’s, S&P, and Fitch. This has worsened the financial problems of Pakistan since 2018, and especially now wherein Pakistan is back with the begging bowl, seeking aid from all possible international avenues.
This is another dual purpose effort by Pakistan Army, to put some life in otherwise dwindling Kashmiri sentiments towards Pakistan sponsored terrorism as well as to give another show of innocence and non-culpability in front of sanctions of FATF. Till such, that FATF eases on Pakistan, Let and JeM have been lying low, to sail under the radar. Once Pakistan feels FATF is not looking this side, TRF, like many before shall fade away and Pakistan Army will be back with the old team.
However, India shall continue to make a stronger case at the Financial Action TaskForce (FATF), to get Pakistan blacklisted for terror financing and subletting the similar agenda. India shall highlight LeT and Pakistan’s involvement in cultivating these new terror outfits like TRF with its links LeT, all handled by Pakistan.
12 May 20/Tuesday Written By: Fayaz