FATF move against Pakistan shows China unlikely to offer blanket support

Lahore: Global money-laundering watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), has through its recent meeting in Paris, France, clearly sent out a message to Pakistan that if it continues to be inactive in dealing firmly with terrorists operating from its soil, it will not only face significant international isolation, but also opposition and lack of support from key ally China.

Pakistan, for the record, has received a three-month reprieve from the FATF. The latter has said that it will place Islamabad on its terrorist financing watch list – the so-called grey list – by June this year, if it does not take significant steps to curtail the export of terror or terrorists from its soil, as also curb the activities of banned Islamic fundamentalist institutions and entities.

The three months of acquittal that Pakistan has received offers it a window of opportunity to take serious steps towards combating terrorism and retain the support of China and the rest of the international community, an article in The Diplomat has said.

China, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia had initially resisted American pressure to place Pakistan on the list of states that lack effective regulations to combat terrorism financing, but in the final phase of discussions, opted to withdraw their support to Islamabad, and allowed the motion to go through successfully. According to The Diplomat, India reportedly also negotiated with China to convince it to withdraw its support for Islamabad.

The message coming out of Beijing is simple and clear — If Islamabad chooses to follow a policy that is not in line with Beijing’s economic or security interests, it should not expect China’s blanket support at or on any forum.

It is clear that China’s position at the FATF was motivated by its own broader regional and international interests.

“Beijing is clearly not happy with Pakistan’s slow or perhaps complete lack of action against groups such as the Jamaat-ul-Dawa’s (JuD), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), and other sectarian groups that are a long-term threats to China’s security and economic interests in the region,” says journalist Umer Jamal in his article for The Diplomat.

“Its decision hardly comes as a surprise. Arguably, China’s decision should be taken as a clear reflection of its frustration with Pakistan rather than seen as the result of diplomatic pressure from India, or any other state for that matter,” he adds.

“Clearly, China’s eventual decision to withdraw its support was partially motivated by Islamabad’s inaction against terror groups operating in the country.”

Add to this is China’s reported policy of holding direct talks with Baloch militant groups to ensure that its huge infrastructural assets/investment, and citizenry in Pakistan are not affected and remain safe.

“It is clearly a sign that Beijing remains apprehensive of Pakistan’s efforts to establish peace in Balochistan, where the local population still has deep-rooted alienation with regard to Islamabad’s militarised policy toward the region,” says Jamal.

He suggests that the temporary reprieve that Pakistan has got should be used by its civil and military leadership to bridge their differences with regard to forming a counter-terrorism policy with consensus and taking on board all stakeholders in the country.

“The civilian government and military leadership in Pakistan need to realize that the current counter-terrorism policy is likely to have huge implications for Pakistan if the country doesn’t make any changes to its security policy,” he concludes. (ANI)