Thursday, May 30, 2024

Imran must not escape FATF; and its Pak senate which is out to ensure it!

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had just completed two years in office on August 18. But he was stumped by the opposition parties in Senate, the Upper House, and had an imminently forgettable first week of third year of his rule. There was hardly anything to cheer up and the downside of his popularity continued unabated.

His naming of 88 terrorists some days ago was seen as an effort to address Financial Action Task Force (FATF) concerns about financing terrorism. Incidentally, Pakistan has been trying hard to wriggle out of the grey list in which it has been put by the FATF for a long time. A review of the grey list status is due in the month of October and Imran is worried about that.

There are chances that Pakistan may not be able to get off the hook despite explicit support from the likes of China and Turkey in the FATF forum. Pakistan often appears compliant before any FATF review before reverting to its old methods. The banned outfits acquire a new name and keep operating nevertheless—much like old wine in new bottle. Yet the fear of being blacklisted is real.

It seems Imran Khan government has a bigger problem at home to contend with. Things are not going according to his plan and some of his critical legislations were defeated in the Upper House on Tuesday.

Imran Khan was so frustrated that he took to Twitter and vented his feelings in anger, saying: “Today in Senate, the opposition defeated two critical FATF-related bills: Anti Money Laundering & ICT Waqf bills. From day one, I have maintained that the self-serving interests of the opposition leaders & the country’s interests are divergent. As accountability noose has tightened, opposition tries to hide behind facade of democracy to protect their loot & plunder.

“To blackmail for NRO by defanging NAB, they would even have Pak put on FATF black list to destroy nation’s economy & increase poverty. They keep threatening to bring down govt unless given NRO.”

He added, emphatically, in another Tweet: Let me make clear: No matter what happens, my govt will not allow any NRO as it would be betrayal of nation’s trust in holding plunderers of public wealth accountable. Musharraf gave NROs to the two political leaders which quadrupled our debt and destroyed economy. There will be no more NROs.

Who are the political leaders being alluded to by Imran but not named here? On this thread, one comment makes it clear, as it says: The corrupt mafia betrayed Pakistan. Nawaz, Zardari gang whose corruption has put Pakistan on the grey list. Rejected the grey list in the Senate and made open enmity with Pakistan. Opposition is demanding NRO for its corruption.

Incidentally, NRO is National Reconciliation Ordinance which was passed by General Pervez Musharraf in October 2007. However, it was declared unconstitutional by Chief Justice of Supreme Court Iftikhar Chaudhary in December 2009 and Musharraf then proceeded to dismiss Chaudhary. The see-saw battles on NRO had plunged Pakistan into a crisis and ultimately led to Musharraf’s ouster.

National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is a statutory body in Pakistan, created ostensibly to target corruption. However, an impression has gathered all around that it is selectively used to target opposition leaders and help the ruling PTI of Imran Khan.

One Twitterati tweeting @DrJavaid10, replying to Imran Khan, explained the real problem in very few words as he said: “One-sided ehtisaab will not work. For the accountability (it should be) across the board or get lost”

Sant Kumar Sharma, a seasoned journalist, is an authority on Jammu and Kashmir. Two of his books on Article 370 and Delimitation are already out. The third one on Indus Waters Treaty is with the publishers. 

Sant began as a teacher but after six years, joined the Indian Express, Chandigarh in 1990, the year when terrorism was taking its first step in J & K and soon there would be exodus of lakhs of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley. He subsequently worked for The Statesman, The Times of India and Star News among others. He is based in Jammu since May 2000.


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