ISLAMABAD - The way US has penalised and pressurised the world opinion against Pakistan in the Financia Action Task Force and subsequent reports that America may be moving World Bank and IMF against Pakistan should clearly tell policy makers in Isamabad and Rawapindi that US is no more an ally or friend of Pakistan.
Classic confusion prevailed throughout the weekend whether or not Pakistan has been put on the watch-list of countries financing terrorism by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
Indian media and some sections of the international media claimed that the country has been placed on the grey list and the development followed in the second round of voting when the United States persuaded other countries to drop opposition and the only country that stood with Pakistan was Turkey.
Though Pakistan has not been included in a list of countries with ‘strategic deficiencies’ in countering money laundering and combating financing for terrorism as the nine countries officially put on the watch-list are Ethiopia, Iraq, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Vanuatu and Yemen, Advisor on Finance Mifta Ismail, who led Pakistan delegation at the fateful meeting has confirmed that the country was already on the grey list and it could be placed in black list in June this year if it failed to take measures as demanded by FATF .
Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif had proudly claimed that the country got three month reprieve from the FATF thanks to the support extended by some friendly countries.
However, the latest development shows his satisfaction was premature and indicated that Pakistani officials and leaders including those sitting in the Finance and Foreign Ministries were totally blind or ignorant about the working and procedures of the Task Force.
They took pride in foiling the initial attempt of the United States, Britain, France and Germany but could not foresee that tables could be turned. Why they failed to keep themselves continuously and aggressively engaged with friends and others till conclusion of the meeting?
What happened between the first and the second voting that changed the situation against us? It is all the more regrettable that while the entire Pakistani media was quoting Indian media on FATF , there was no confirmation or denial from the relevant people in the relevant ministries. Foreign Office spokesman, who is otherwise media friendly and forthcoming, evaded responding to queries by journalists and even did not bother to attend their calls.
Anyhow, putting Pakistan back on the list would not make much difference as the country remained on the list previously and managed to survive. We would manage this time too but there are serious issues, points and questions involved, which need to be debated, considered and explained by the relevant institutions and ministries.
The machinations used by the United States to penalize and pressurize Pakistan on the issue should be an eye-opener for our policy makers that Washington was no more friend or ally of Pakistan. A clear distinction has been made and message sent and our future policies should be based on the ground realities.
It is also a source of concern that we could effectively engage and convince our friends despite the fact that we done in the war on terror more than any other country of the world. Worst is the fact that the Parliament, which is supposed to be the only place where issues like FATF moves should have been debated and decisions made, has been turned irrelevant mainly because of lack of interest by the parliamentarians in upholding dignity of the house and encroachment upon its domain by other institutions. It is people of people who ultimately suffer from the decisions made the government and other institutions in unilateral manners and therefore, they must be taken into confidence on every occasion and before taking any important move.
Three months would pass quickly and there are apprehensions that the authorities concerned might not be able to concentrate on the issue because of election fever. Therefore, the issue should be brought before the Parliament on priority basis and guidelines sought in the interest of the country.
It is time for the relevant ministries to do their homework minutely during these three months keeping in view what the international law requires us to do and take appropriate measures on fast track basis but in a calculated manner. Officials of the relevant ministries and institutions should have brainstorming sessions on what happened and how to go for damage control.
The impression that Pakistan stands diplomatically isolated would also be demoralizing and therefore, Pakistani missions abroad should be briefed and activated to take counter measures.