Pakistan is aware that its promises sound hollow, when those whom the UN designates as global terrorists, roam freely, give speeches and raise funds to support terror activities.
The Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) recent decision to give Pakistan time till May to provide its action plans prior to placing it under the ‘grey or black list’ was not unexpected, despite China and Saudi Arabia’s initial support to Islamabad. In fact, the seeds for warning Pakistan were sowed by their own army chief, General Javed Bajwa, when he recently addressed the Munich Security Conference. It was almost as if he was informing the world body that Pakistan officially supports terror groups.
General Javed Bajwa, in his supposedly candid speech at the Munich Security conference on 17 February stated that as far as his country, army and ISI are concerned, there are clearly ‘good and bad’ terrorists. He stated that Pakistan was a victim of ‘bad terrorists’, implying terrorism emanating from Afghanistan. Interestingly, those they support are ‘good’, while those who attack them are ‘bad’.
Without naming India, he added that Islamabad supports ‘good terrorism’ if it is against any country it considers oppressive. In his opinion, India is an oppressive force in Kashmir. Thus, he officially admitted that Pakistan does support terror groups operating against India and Afghanistan, as it has always considered Afghanistan as its backyard and any other power in that country is akin to an oppressor. While most analysts read his words to imply only India, but continuing Pak shelter to the Taliban and Haqqani network indicates otherwise.
Gen. Bajwa went on to describe his country’s plan to fight terrorism by invoking the ‘National Action Plan’, which he termed as the ‘key message of Pakistan’, to fight terrorism. Here he stated that a recent fatwa bans suicide bombing and jihad. Thus, he admitted to sending suicide squads to India and Afghanistan, nations he terms ‘tyrannical’. Despite the so-called fatwa, nothing has changed. Suicide squads continue to operate in India and Afghanistan. Thus, the fatwa was only a show for the world that Pakistan is acting. In his speech he also recognised that the Afghan Jehadi movement was his country’s own doing.
He even warned world leaders that terrorism would not be eliminated from Pakistani soil in any near timeframe. He stated: “Large number of people are radicalised, armed and empowered politically and ideologically. They cannot be wished away just because we do not like them anymore. Please note that we are harvesting what we sowed 40 years back. So, it will be a while before this scourge is eliminated from our territory.” This was enough for an official admission, just prior to the FATF meeting that Pakistan will not change, unless heavily pressured.
While the speech did bare some facts and laid open Pakistan’s official support to terror groups, there were issues which remained unquestioned. First, all nations in the region are only battling Pak nationals who form the core of terror groups. India battles Pak based terror groups, mostly comprising their nationals. Pakistan itself battles terror groups based in Afghanistan, which target them from across the border. Members of these groups are neither Afghanis nor Indians, but again Pak nationals, whom their own army has alienated.
Similarly, the Baluch Liberation Front members are again their own nationals. Even the Afghan Taliban has leaders selected and approved by the deep state, hence are again Pakistanis. Thus, the entire region is engulfed by terror groups, whose members remain from one nation alone, Pakistan. Therefore rightly, India has termed Pakistan as ‘Terroristan’.
If Pakistan is serious on its commitment to control terror groups emanating from its soil, then its foremost action would be to close its terror factories, in terms of Madrassas, which support and breed terrorists, by brainwashing them. Unless it takes this step, there would be no end to producing brainwashed terrorists. Blaming Afghan refugees or any other nation or community has no value.
The next action is to curb or place in cold storage those who seek to collect funds and recruit discards from society and local thieves as terrorists and employ them as cannon fodder. The present lot operating in Kashmir are just that. Unless it resorts to these actions, there would never be any change in the ground situation.
Pakistan’s deep state has never realised that supporting terror groups can never settle disputes, especially as far as India and Afghanistan are concerned. India would never commence dialogue, Pakistan would never succeed in bleeding India to the level it desires, nor would there ever be a Kashmir uprising. Similar would be the case with Afghanistan. The US and the Afghan government, though keen for talks would never do so from a position of weakness. On the contrary, it would enhance tensions with Pakistan, increased pressure and greater isolation, signs of which are clearly visible presently.
Further, such action results in an arms race, forcing Pakistan to either invest more than its economy can afford on creating conventional capabilities or resort to expending limited resources to producing and maintaining nuclear weapons. In either case, it puts an already weak economy, whose external loans are on the rise by the day and whose populace lack even basic facilities, into deeper debt.
The only nation which has and would continue to bleed would be Pakistan itself, as the groups and monsters it created could very well turn inwards in case international pressure increases. Its claims of India and Afghanistan supporting anti-Pak terror groups would never be internationally accepted as the nationals who form part of them are their own. The anger of the international committee was evident when Pakistan was considered of being placed on the ‘grey list’ by the FATF. Whether it was influenced by the Pakistan army chief’s comments would not be known, but his open acceptance of supporting terror groups as a state policy would have compelled the US and its allies to enforce action by the FATF. Pakistan now has three months to give its action plans, failing which it could still find itself in the ‘grey list’.
Pakistan is aware that its promises sound hollow, when those whom the UN designates as global terrorists, roam freely, give speeches and raise funds to support terror activities. It has, despite vague promises by its army chief, been on the receiving end of international anger. China may remain its sole benefactor, but unless it acts, it risks being globally isolated.
This is the difference when a nation’s army controls state policy versus a civilian government doing so. A civilian government would seek development and peace, whereas a military junta would only seek internal suppression and external aggression as ‘generals only know to fight, not develop nations’. The Pakistan army never cares for its populace as it retains power from behind the throne and compels the civilian government to face backlash from the masses.
The warning by the FATF is the first step. More should follow, if the world desires a changed South Asia. Realistically for Pakistan, the more it attempts to follow good versus bad terror, the more it would face destabilisation while other nations would watch from the side lines. It has nurtured snakes in its backyard and sooner or later, they would only turn inwards. It should heed the FATF warning before it is too late.