The failed Pakistan and IMF talks on Sunday, before the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Plenary session which is scheduled to be held from October 19, is not good news for the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan who has been at loggerheads with the powerful military establishment over the issue of appointment of the spy Chief. As per the 2019 IMF deal, the Imran Khan government had agreed to the formal mention of money laundering in the document, thus linking IMF tranches directly to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Pakistan, which is on the grey list of the FATF since 2018, was given three months time in June this year to fulfil the remaining conditions by October. The FATF plenary will be held in Paris from October 19-21.
The latest US Congressional report on terrorism "Terrorist and Other Militant Groups in Pakistan", says that at least 12 groups designated as "foreign terrorist organizations" by the US are based in Pakistan, including five that are India-centric. As per the US administration, Islamabad continues to remain a base of operations for numerous non-state militant groups, many with global reach.
Quoting the report, the US State Department had pointed out that Pakistan remained a safe haven for terrorism despite claims to the contrary. Despite promises made to the international community about taking action against terrorist groups, Pakistan has not taken any action against terrorist groups and their sanctuaries. Last week, the Biden administration downgraded the bilateral relationship with Pakistan for playing a double game in the fight against terrorism. On the one hand Pakistan was supposed an ally of the US in the "war on terror". But simultaneously, it was helping the Taliban takeover Afghanistan. Since the Taliban came into power in mid-August, Pakistan has been publicly talking about the future recognition of the Taliban government, which has close ties to Pakistan's powerful military intelligence services, the ISI.
As the report suggests Pakistan has become a classic hybrid state with the military and militants influencing the state and its actions.
The former US National Security Advisor H R McMaster told a US congressional hearing that the US should hold Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan accountable for some of his comments after the fall of Kabul in August and that Pakistan should be confronted broadly with international isolation because of its "support for jihadist terrorists".
"Given that Washington has always seen Pakistan as the key sponsor of the Taliban, its insistence on asking Pakistan to control the Haqqanis has created a lot of complications for Islamabad," says one Pakistani journalist adding sanctions are looming large on Pakistan.
Citing the report, Fabien Baussart, the founder and President of the think-tank Centre of Political and Foreign Affairs wrote on Times of Israel, that FATF must also put on record evidence collated by various countries of Pakistan's role in helping a militant group, the Taliban, from overthrowing an elected government in Afghanistan. Pakistan's association with global terrorist outfits such as the Haqqani Network, known for hosting groups like Al Qaeda, needs to be brought on record.
"FATF will fail in its duty if it delays blacklisting Pakistan for its terrorist sponsorship," warns Baussart.
In the last meeting held in June, the FATF decided to continue keeping Pakistan on its grey list and asked it to prosecute and target senior leaders of UN-designated terrorist groups.