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Black & Grey

There has also been a certain softening of stance on the part of the Western powers, notably the US, the UK, Germany, and France, indeed the four nations that were the initial sponsors of Pakistan’s grey-listing.

SNS | New Delhi |

The subcontinent can almost hear a collective sigh of relief in Pakistan, going by indications last weekend to the effect that it might escape the blacklisting by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Yet it would be delusory to imagine that it has been able to contain the home-grown terrorist, let alone the export of terror as manifest in Mumbai on 26 November 2008. It has received the “all-clear” marking on 14 out of 27 action plans.

The going for Islamabad, therefore, may not not be difficult at next month’s FATF’s plenary in Paris. It will be open to question whether there has been a marked change in Pakistan’s ground reality. Suffice it to register that geopolitical considerations and astute diplomacy have arguably led to a softening of the FATF’s rigidity. In the net, Pakistan is likely to remain on the “grey list” for some time yet.

There has also been a certain softening of stance on the part of the Western powers, notably the US, the UK, Germany, and France, indeed the four nations that were the initial sponsors of Pakistan’s grey-listing. Given the cordial equation, China can well be expected to come to the aid of Pakistan at the next meeting of the FATF. That said, Imran Khan’s government cannot take the support of France for granted, however.

France is determined to continue combating money-laundering and terror financing and its government will “objectively evaluate Pakistan’s actions, without any concessions”. The Asia- Pacific Group’s meeting in Beijing, which concluded last Thursday, is reported to have analysed Pakistan’s situation from a technical point of view. It is only appropriate, therefore, that the plenary in Paris will examine what they call Pakistan’s action-taken report. It cannot be expected to inspire optimism.

Clearly, a theoretical assessment cannot be enough to effect a fine distinction between “grey” and “black”. There has to be a dramatic change in the situation on the ground. The occasional death sentences awarded by Pakistan’s military have been rather counter-productive not the least because of the rough-and-ready justice. Furthermore, for every terrorist killed or hanged, two are born. Perhaps the ongoing peace process in Afghanistan could be one major reason for the widely expected reprieve.

It is here that America’s geostrategy comes into play. The US needs Pakistan to broker a peace deal with the Taliban… which is no less a sinister force to the west of the Radcliffe Line. A truce with the militants will enable Donald Trump to effect an outward march, in effect bring back the American troops before the presidential election in November. Is a quid pro quo on the anvil ~ Pakistan on the grey list in return for US troop withdrawal? The crucial question survives. Can the administration of President Ashraf Ghani be left to its own devices in terms of internal security? Perhaps not, as the Taliban offensives over the past few years would suggest.