Pakistan is all set to come out of the FATF grey list, according to a report in The Sunday Guardian, the sister newspaper of The Daily Guardian Review. The report suggests that China has been quietly lobbying Pakistan’s case with the Financial Action Task Force, which has put India’s western neighbour on the grey list of countries that require monitoring for money laundering and terror financing. Apparently, the ongoing FATF plenary in Berlin will take a call on Pakistan’s continuation on the list and there is a high probability that Islamabad will be seen to have fulfilled the 27th of the 27 conditions put on it. The last condition is of prosecution of senior leaders, and the 33-year-long term jail term handed to terrorist mastermind Hafiz Saeed will be seen as positive action. It is a different matter that Hafiz Saeed will serve several of these sentences simultaneously and may not be in jail even for five years and if pardoned in certain cases, maybe even less. Even otherwise, we have seen what a farce Pakistani action against its pet terrorists can be. Take the case of Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attack case. He had untrammelled access to television, mobile phones, internet and several visitors. He was allowed conjugal visits and fathered a child when “in jail”. In fact Hafiz Saeed’s stay at Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail last year was a farce because he was found to be at home when a car bomb exploded in front of his house in June 2021. There have been reports about Daniel Pearl’s killer, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, being given home-like facilities at Hyderabad Central Jail, courtesy his closeness to one of then Prime Minister Imran Khan’s men.
Also, given terrorism is state policy for Pakistan, it will be too much to expect it to turn off the tap of terror—which it uses against India and other countries at will—when the international community seems more than eager to believe its case.
As for China, it has a long track record of using non state actors against its adversaries, sometimes through its proxies. More often than not, Pakistan acts as China’s proxy to keep India’s western borders restive. Pakistan and North Korea are anyway the two proxies that China has to keep India and Japan, respectively, on the “nuclear edge”.
Apart from this, supporting terrorism is part of China’s “political” warfare against India. There have been credible reports of Chinese generals establishing contacts with terrorist groups that Pakistan uses against India, including attempting to revive an India-specific group known as Al Badr, which had gone defunct. It was because of China that it took 10 years—from 2009 to 2019—for India to get the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad commander Masood Azhar listed as a global terrorist by the United Nations Security Council Sanctions Committee, and this in spite of India having the support of the other members of the UNSC. China is believed to have paid—or is paying—protection money to terror groups functioning in the Af-Pak area to secure its China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects, as these groups have stepped up attacks against Chinese interests. If we look at India’s Northeast, China has been funding insurgencies there. Reports are that this has happened in Myanmar and Thailand as well.
China and Pakistan apparently are “iron brothers”, and the deeper a bankrupt Pakistan slips into China’s trap and becomes its client state, it is but natural that to stabilise the situation and complete the Chinese projects, China would want Pakistan out of the FATF grey list. China has sunk billions of dollars in CPEC and that money is stuck, with CPEC not going anywhere at present. So it is in Beijing’s interest that Pakistan comes out of the FATF grey list.
But that will be a major mistake, and no amount of economic difficulties faced by Pakistan justifies taking it out of the grey list. It is hoped that whatever be the pressure from, or lobbying by PRC, the FATF will not forget that Pakistan will never mend its way. It is a terror state and will continue to be a terror state.