Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Would FATF note Pakistan’s complicity in harbouring terrorism and destabilising Afghanistan?

By Hamid Pakteen

The 15-member high level Financial Action Task Force (FATF) concluded its five-day visit to Pakistan on September 2 to verify the steps Islamabad had taken to fulfil the conditions to exit grey listing by the watchdog of global money laundering and terrorist financing. However, in a recent interview, founder and leader of National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, Ahmad Massoud, alleged that it is Pakistan which has nurtured and given safe havens to various terrorist outfits and leaders. Apparently, Pakistan might show short-lived steps to curb terror financing, but terrorism is ingrained in the minds of Pak foreign policy eagles.

Ahmad Massoud, the key opposition to Taliban further charged that Al-Qaeda Chief Ayman Al Zawahiri, who was killed in Kabul in a drone attack, was harboured by Taliban. He added that the Talibans are also harbouring other terrorist groups including Jaish-e-Mohammed. These terrorist groups have become more active after the Taliban grabbed power. 

Massoud disclosed that Taliban and Al-Qaeda were in complete cooperation and that “giving in to the will of Taliban is giving in to the will of Terrorism as a whole.” Asked about role of Pakistan in terrorism, he noted that Pakistan has always played a “double game” and “they always try to support the groups which destabilise other countries without understanding the consequences of it.” Pakistan, according to him, has supported and harboured the Taliban for the past 20 years. “The leaders were found there, and if Afghanistan was not recaptured by the Taliban, we could definitely see the killing of Ayman Ali Zawahiri in Pakistan instead of Kabul – just like Osama bin Laden”, he stated.

He underscored that instead of supporting a legitimate government of Republic of Afghanistan with all the differences, Islamabad took the wrong path and wrong strategy, which caused Afghanistan to fall.

Masood asserted that under the rule of the Taliban government and with the support of Pakistan, Afghanistan would gradually turn into a safe haven for terrorist groups. He added that Afghanistan has moved several steps back on all fronts – political, social and economic development. According to him, the country has moved away from tolerance, openness and acceptance to a complete breakdown of the rule of law and institutions. “The Taliban government has lost the trust of people”, he stated.

Describing the situation in Afghanistan, he contended that it has become isolated once again and a hub for terrorism. Women have completely lost their rights to study, to work, to be part of the government and even to live. Also the minorities, like Sikhs and Shias have lost their sense of security, safety and acceptance in society. People have lost the freedom of speech as a whole. He regretted that “Afghanistan has gone back to the dark age.”

If FATF’s verification of Pakistan’s measures against money laundering and terror financing bring a positive report, it may come out of the grey list. But there is a deeply entrenched belief in Pakistan establishment which considers terrorism as an important foreign policy instrument as seen in the case of neighbouring countries including Afghanistan. It would require drastic attitudinal change in Pakistan mindset if terror financing is to be halted. There are deep overt and covert links between Pakistan’s intelligence agency, state machinery and terrorist outfits. In July 2019, the then Prime Minister of Pakistan had conceded that there were still 30,000-40,000 terrorists in the country who have been trained and had fought in some parts of Afghanistan or Kashmir. FATF should not be in any haste and should do a careful study before approving Pakistan’s exit from grey listing.  

Note:The contents of the article are of sole responsibility of the author. Afghan Diaspora Network will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the articles.

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