Blackballing democracy


Pakistan’s FATF grey-listing was all but inevitable. Not because the last government did not do its best to implement its own 26-point action plan. But, rather, due to its seemingly being thwarted every step of the way.
Four months is a relatively small window of opportunity to work with. Nevertheless, progress was made on several fronts. Back in February, the global anti-money laundering watchdog identified four key areas of concern: deficiencies in the supervision of Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter-Terrorism Financing (CTF) regimes; cross-border illicit movement of currency by terrorist groups; progress on terrorism financing investigation and prosecution; as well as implementation of UN Security Council resolutions 1267 and 1373, both of which tackle curbing terror financing.Presently, the country is lagging only when it comes to the question of cross-border cash smuggling.
That being said, the heat is on. FATF has set Pakistan a 10-point agenda to “address its strategic counter-terrorist financing-related deficiencies”. The implementation timetable goes something like this: the first nine goals are to be met by May 2019 and the remaining one by September of the same year. These include “demonstrating that facilities and services owned or controlled by designated persons are deprived of their resources and the usage of the resources”.
This is something that the last government had strived towards by effectively outlawing particular militant groups as well as seizing their assets. Yet it has not been an easy journey. And the current scenario, at least in political terms, appears increasingly risky.
For instance, there has recently been a flurry of activity around certain proscribed outfits; resulting in them being all set to contest the elections. And while the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has done the needful on the non-registration front — it is no match for those who wish to see such groups mainstreamed at any cost.
Yet murmurings of a hard coup are likely exaggerated. As are the military establishment’s political ambitions. Meaning that the current power battle is being waged on a single agenda: devastating the PMLN of any electoral hopes. And once this is achieved, with the crowning of a new blue-eyed boy, it is believed that a retreat to the barracks will be in the offing. Thus as far as the question of blacklisting goes, Pakistan needs to sit tight for just a month or so; until the new set-up is sworn in.