EDITORIAL: Despite the immediate euphoria following what looks like FATF’s (Financial Action Task Force’s) decision to remove Pakistan from the grey list in October after onsite checks sometime before that, the anticipated outcome has created a rush of different parties and persons claiming credit for this outcome confirming the adage that ‘Success has many fathers’.
Let’s be fair, it’s been a while since all of the necessary conditions were met, and there was a feeling in official quarters that matter was delayed for purely political reasons for at least the last couple of hearings. And after the conviction of Hafiz Saeed by an anti-terrorism court, especially, there was clearly nothing left to bend over backwards any longer for. Yet we must wait another quarter to be technically in the clear.
The PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf) administration must take the bulk of the credit for the progress, of course, since it did most of the work in partnership with the military. But due marks must still be given to the present government, because without the thaw that it was able to engineer with the US government in a very short time, this could, and most likely would, have still dragged on endlessly. There were also reports that the Chinese, along with a few other friends, were lobbying behind the scenes to get us off the grey list. Such things can be crucial because we can always count on our eastern neighbour to go well out of its way to poison the proceedings for Pakistan; which it has been doing since well before 2018 when Pakistan was placed on the increased monitoring list.
Even if, for legal reasons, the good news will still take a few months to come, financial markets are already pricing it in and preparing to welcome foreign direct as well as portfolio investment. That’s because once FATF gives the green light, you can count on its contribution to a ratings upgrade, more and better debt support, and more foreign investment.
There’s also credible chatter that the Chinese did not only lobby but with other friends like Turkey and Saudi Arabia also ready to offer investments, more than bailout support, for the short- to medium-term, once all the technicalities are settled. If true, these developments reflect very nicely on the government’s diplomatic outreach in very trying times.
There’s a big lesson in this for Pakistan. As Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar said very rightly, this country will never repeat the mistakes that got it into this mess in the first place. No doubt Pakistan was right at the top of the list of countries that lost most from the so-called war on terrorism; even though it was not even directly involved in it in any way.
Even now, it is haunted by the ghosts of the war that took more than 80,000 innocent lives; and nobody can ever forget the darkest day in this country’s history when terrorists sneaked into the Peshawar Army Public School and butchered well over a hundred little children in 2014.
It’s a good thing, then, that we have finally cut off all financial lifelines for these enemies of the state; and the whole world has now acknowledged our efforts. The biggest disservice the state can now do to its people is letting this appreciation of its efforts make it complacent. We deal with an enemy that adjusts to all twists and turns, and will fight right to the very end. We must not be deceived by our advances any more than we should believe the enemy’s offers of negotiations and conditions for ceasefire.
This is an existential battle, and complications that lit up FATF for so long were only one part of it. Even if it is pretty much taken care of, there’s nothing to even suggest that anybody can take their eyes off the ball.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022