Home Global Village US official visits Pakistan in quest to improve relations after FATF debacle

US official visits Pakistan in quest to improve relations after FATF debacle

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News Analysis |

In the latest development, a senior United States (US) National Security Council official has visited Islamabad in a low key affair aiming to improve the strained ties between the two nations.

Foreign Office spokesman (FOS) Dr. Mohammad Faisal tweeted regarding the latest meeting and said, “FS (Ms. Tehmina Janjua) meets Ms. Lisa Curtis, the Senior Director for South and Central Asia at the NSC of US, at Mofa (ministry of foreign affairs) this morning.”

Lisa Curtis is Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Director for South and Central Asia at the National Security Council (NSC). She met the Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua at the FO. She also held talks with the Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal along with US ambassador David Hale.

Lisa Curtis was formerly a fellow at the Heritage Center, a right wing think tank in Washington DC and in February 2017, she along with Hussain Haqqani co-authored a paper about how Pakistan needs to be dealt with strictly. The paper was titled, ‘A New US Approach to Pakistan: Enforcing Aid Conditions Without Cutting Ties,’ and was published by the Hudson Institute.

Knowing the huge economic repercussions of this move, Pakistan amended a section of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) 1997 to enable the authorities to move against individuals and organizations prescribed by the United Nations Security Council’s (UNSC). 

Foreign Office (FO) has given few details on the visit and has not published a press release. FO did not even remark on the nature of the discussion. In normal visits, FOS highlights the subject of discussion, but on this occasion, no details were released, which is unusual.

It reflects the breakdown of the relationship after the US’s public bashing and rhetoric accusing Pakistan of failing to do enough against the war on terror and being guilty of not complying with the US demands. Pakistan and US bilateral ties have taken a hit after the latter put forward a motion against Pakistan along with the UK to put it on the terror financing watch list.

Read more: Is FATF a tool reflecting US, UK hypocrisy?

It is the first meeting since the breakdown in the relations to avoid a complete breakdown after its successful bid to put Pakistan on terror watch-list for its failure to comply by the global anti-money laundering and terror financing requirements. The US accused Pakistan of failing to take adequate efforts to root out terrorism and did not remain compliant with global anti-money laundering and terror financing requirements.

Since the end of last year, the US remained vocal of Pakistan’s failure to control terrorism from its soil and did not cut ties with the militants operating in Afghanistan and Indian Held Kashmir (IHK).

Pakistan is aware of the political game at play to defeat its economic progression and proximity with other regional powers. In an attempt to show progression and its quest to curb terror financing and to avoid the terror financing watch list.

At the start of the year, the US suspended the $2 billion security aid citing that Pakistan failed to clamp down on the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network terror groups aiming to pressurize Pakistan over terror links. 

But, Pakistan did not come under US pressure and started extending an olive branch to the US’s biggest foes in the region, Iran and Russia. It did not go down well with the US. Furious at the snub after Pakistan’s rhetoric to come out of the US’s shadow and potentially looking to craft a foreign strategy without taking the US into consideration, prompted the US to scrutinize Pakistan economically.

India and Afghanistan have increased their efforts to convince the international community of Pakistan’s role in assisting militants in their respective countries. The US and India worked on the same agenda apparently to isolate Pakistan internationally.

Read more: Pakistan will be on FATF Grey List – Confirmed

It paid off in the end when even Pakistan’s all-weather friends and closest allies-Saudi Arabia and China voted against Pakistan at the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). FATF seems to be used as a tool to put Pakistan under pressure aiming to sabotage Pak-China developing economic cooperation using Indian propaganda against Pakistan.

It is certainly not the end of the road for Pakistan. It may only prove to be a symbolic move suggesting future tougher sanctions. It can adopt the measures and convince the international community of its efforts to stop terrorist financing in Pakistan. But, failure in this regard and lack of cooperation with US authorities can prompt the US to adopt an even tougher measure which could be economic sanctions and inclusion into blacklisted countries.

At the start of the year, the US suspended the $2 billion security aid citing that Pakistan failed to clamp down on the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network terror groups aiming to pressurize Pakistan over terror links. 

Pakistan is aware of the political game at play to defeat its economic progression and proximity with other regional powers. In an attempt to show progression and its quest to curb terror financing and to avoid the terror financing watch list. Pakistan recently amended the anti-terrorism law to regain the trust of the international community. It blacklisted the charities linked to Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) leader Hafiz Saeed.

Knowing the huge economic repercussions of this move, Pakistan amended a section of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) 1997 to enable the authorities to move against individuals and organizations prescribed by the United Nations Security Council’s (UNSC). 

Read more: Ahsan Iqbal vows to ban JuD and FIF ‘again’

The federal government issued the notification to seize all the moveable and immovable assets of the organizations named in the UNSC sanctions list. Punjab government swiftly seized assets and funds belonging to Hafiz Saeed’s Jamat ud Dawa (JuD) and its welfare wing the Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation (FIF).

Going forward Pakistan will have to comply with the reform agenda and course of action directed by the FATF to overcome the deficiencies to curb terror financing in the country.


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