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Mainstreaming Balochistan

A number of development projects have been signed during the visit of Chinese President. Most of these mega projects shall benefit the people of Balochistan. Some of envisaged infrastructure does not suit a few neighbouring countries and a few distant countries. Their interest converge and they are, individually as well as conjointly, making effort to keep Blochistan unstable so that these development projects do not materialize on ground. For this they are exploiting traditional ethno-sectarian fault-lines. Besides international intrigues, handful of local anti-Pakistan elements are also conspiring against the province of Balochistan with a view to destabilize the province by exacerbating dissent, sectarian violence and stirring sentiments of separatism. Moreover, international players have also hired some local cronies to draw international focus by trumpeting so called Human Right’s violations in Balochistan.
Balochistan is resource-rich province of Pakistan, and its geostrategic location has significance for international business and transit trade. Thus world powers and regional countries, including some ostensibly friendly ones, have designed their respective Balochistan specific game plans. Most of them are covertly working to create conditions to control and influence the resource rich zones. The situation is complex requiring delicate handling.
Since the start of Gawadar port project, a lot of lose money has always been readily available from some of the foreign NGOs/ think tanks for sensationalizing the Balochistan situation. Such sponsors nominate speakers for such events, control the contents and throw up recommendations of their choice. Some Pakistani entities and individuals unknowingly walk into the trap; and for some it’s their bread and butter. Noble causes like freedom of speech, autonomy of academic research and Human rights are often referred to for justifying their bizarre acts.
As a great majority of the people of Balochistan is patriotic Pakistanis, a relentless effort is on to create confusion in their minds by floating horror stories about Balochistan. Balochistan has been a battlefield of mischievous interests of the anti-Pakistan elements for the last many years. Most of the time there is an artificially created atmosphere of lawlessness, chaos and anarchy. Innocent people are killed sometimes in the name of sectarian conflict and sometimes in the name of linguistic and ethnic differences; ethnic cleansing is another sorry state of the overall picture. State does not subscribe to any such activity. However, terrorists are doing their best to enforce the impression that the law-enforcement agencies and the intelligence agencies are behind the bloodshed in Balochistan. In the process HR narratives about Balochistan have become overly politicized.
National Commission on Missing Persons/Forced disappearances, headed by Justice Javed Iqbal, in 2010, had put to rest exaggerated claims of missing persons in Balochistan; findings brought to light that such number was less than one hundred, and other three provinces and AJK each had larger number of unaccounted for persons. Later, a delegation of the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances carried out its ten-day official visit to Pakistan on government’s invitation. During the visit, the Working Group held a number of meetings with representatives of all sectors of the civil society including NGOs, HR activists, lawyers and a number of relatives of disappeared persons in all parts of the country. It reported: “The invitation extended by the Government to us and other special procedures of the Human Rights Council is a testimony of its will to cooperate and take human rights issues seriously…Meanwhile, Pakistan is facing important security challenges…The State has to deal with multiple threats, coming from terrorist movements or violent groups. The conflicts taking place in neighbouring countries or territories is an additional factor of insecurity. The Working Group acknowledges these threats and the need for the State to ensure the right to life of their citizens”. Working group received a number of complaints, but found nothing close to fairy tales of “hundreds of thousands of missing persons”.
On April 11, twenty construction workers were killed and three others injured when unidentified gunmen opened fire on them in a pre-dawn attack on a labourers’ camp near Turbat. The victims belonged to Sindh and Punjab. Banned Baloch Liberation Front (BLF) promptly claimed responsibility for the attack. Chief Minister Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch believes that RAW is behind all these; he has stated that terrorists, receiving funds from RAW, were involved in this heinous act. In a recent interview with oneindia portal/website managed by the RAW, Dr. Aala Nazar, chief of BLF spelled out in detail various issues ranging from the attempts made by the Chinese to have foothold in Balochistan with the help of Pakistan, and also the role that India could play in Balochistan. In 2004 also, the BLF had claimed responsibility for attacks on Chinese engineers in Gwadar.
In a follow up to April 11 incident, Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif along with Chief Minister and Governor Balochistan attended a briefing at FC Headquarters Quetta on April 15. During his trip the General warned foreign governments and intelligence agencies against meddling in Balochistan and thereby sustaining the insurgency that he vowed would be defeated “comprehensively”. He said: “We will unearth terrorists, their abettors, sympathisers and financers. None of them will find any place in the country to hide.”
There are pluses of Balochistan polity which are often ignored. For example after peaceful general elections in 2013, Balochistan became the first province to hold local bodies’ elections; and since then both local and provincial governments are functioning in harmony. Other provinces are yet to hold their local bodies’ elections. Moreover, during both these elections, turnout of voters was quite high, even in the areas having poor law and order situations people came out in good numbers to vote; surprisingly women voters turn out even in insurgency hit areas was quite promising. This indicates the faith common Bloch people have in the country and its democratic processes. A number of education and vocational training being run by Pakistan Army are bringing a quiet revolution in Balochistan that does not suit the old guards in Balochistan. Moreover, enabling environment has been created for the Baloch youth to join the officer cadre of the armed forces; as many as 15 Baloch cadets passed out of Pakistan Military Academy in the 132nd passing out parade held at Kakul on April 18. Balochistan is moving in the right direction, however the pace is slow. Law enforcement agencies need to put their act together and arrest high profile dissidents of the like of Dr Aala Nazar and bring them to justice. This will deliver a strong message and hasten normalization of Baluchistan.

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Dynamics of FATF listing

Pakistan Focus Analysis. Indo-US anti-Pakistan nexus is so very obvious, both have in-chorus expressed their joy on Pakistan’s placement on grey list. Indian Express has reported that “India, US are one in saying Pakistan deserved to be demoted to anti-terror funding group's 'grey list’”. "India welcomes the decision of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to place Pakistan in its Compliance Document (grey list) for ICRG [International Cooperation review Group] monitoring," said India's ministry of external affairs. And; "outstanding counterterrorism deficiencies consistently raised by the Financial Action Task Force and [Pakistan] needs to take actions, including on the raising and moving of funds of UN-designated terrorist groups, a top US official said to news agency PTI”. Decision is politically motivated and is part of American strategy to pressurise Pakistan to settle some other scores. Pakistan has been placed among the jurisdictions (states) with strategic deficiencies: Ethiopia, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and Yemen. FATF has called upon these states to complete implementation of the action plans expeditiously and within the proposed timeframes, vowing to closely monitor the implementation. It was also agreed in February Plenary that an Action Plan would be negotiated between Pakistan and FATF members by June. This has been done. The FATF has formally placed Pakistan on the grey list due to ‘strategic deficiencies’ in its anti-money laundering and terrorism financing regime. The decision came despite Pakistan had demonstrated reasonable progress in three out of four major areas of FATF concerns. Pakistan’s team led by Finance Minister apprised the plenary about measures that Pakistan had taken to stop money laundering and strangling the terror financing. In prevailing World Order, nothing works better than American pressures. During February plenary, the US and the UK went out of their way to by-pass the standard FATF procedures and jointly arm twist the FATF for nominating Pakistan for the grey list in June, regardless of its February-June period effort and progress; they were also joined by France and Germany. Pakistan has undertaken to work towards effective implementation of the Action Plan, while staying in the grey list. A similar situation took place in 2011 when Pakistan was included in the grey list and was taken out in 2015 after it successfully implemented the Action Plan. There were tall claims that Pakistan was unlikely to be placed on the grey list of the global financial watchdog as the country had made enough progress to meet international anti-money laundering and terror financing standards, such euphoric environment had been created before and during the previous FATF plenary meeting as well. There is a need to float realistic expectations before such international events. FATF identifies jurisdictions with strategic AML/CFT deficiencies in its two public documents: FATF Public Statement (call for action)– commonly known as black list—and Improving Global AML/CFT Compliance— nick named as grey list. It is an on-going process; these lists are updated three times a year. Interestingly, FATF does not use grey list/blacklist terminologies. The ICRG of the APG had identified four key areas of concerns: deficiencies in the supervision of Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter Terrorism Financing regimes; cross-border illicit movement of currency by terrorist groups; progress on terrorism financing investigation and prosecution; and implementation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions 1267 and 1373, for curbing terror financing. ICRG report has shown that Pakistan did show progress on three out of four major areas of concerns. Cross-border smuggling of cash was the only major area where Pakistan admitted deficiencies. Maximum number of conditions – nine to be precise – take into account the concerns of the UNSC resolutions, followed by eight commitments to address concerns regarding terrorism financing prosecution, four are about curbing currency movement across the border and five recommendations relate to improvement in the supervision mechanisms of banks and companies. Pakistan has undertaken to demonstrate that authorities are identifying cash couriers and enforcing controls on illicit movement of currency and understanding the risk of cash couriers being used for terrorism financing. Remember Ayan Ali case? And who protected her? Carrier is enjoying quality life abroad. Pakistan has made a “high-level political commitment to work with the FATF and APG to strengthen its Anti-money Laundering (AML)/Countering Financing of Terrorism (CFT) regime and to address its strategic counter-terrorist financing-related deficiencies,” according to FATF announcement. The FATF said Pakistan will also be demonstrating that remedial actions and sanctions are applied in cases of AML/CFT violations, and that these actions have an effect on AML/CFT compliance by financial institutions. “It will be demonstrating that competent authorities are cooperating and taking action to identify and take enforcement action against illegal money or value transfer services.” During the intervening period Pakistan government did strenuous hard work to plug the gaps. Ambitious laws were enacted. Finance ministry improved institutional mechanisms for handling anti-money laundering and countering financing terrorism issues. Coordination between the State Bank, Banking institutions and law enforcement agencies had also been strengthened to curb money laundering and terror financing. Pakistan has recently addressed issues raised by the FATF through a tax amnesty scheme, while Securities and Exchange Commission has issued Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Regulations (2018). National Security Committee has also reaffirmed its commitment to cooperate with the FATF. Through its Action Plan, Pakistan has demonstrated to the world that it was ready to go an extra mile to curb money laundering. Pakistan will have to deliver on the first goal by January next year and complete all the 26 actions by September 2019,” it is indeed a tight schedule. One wonders whether Pakistan has requisite mechanisms in place to implement and steer such an ambitious plan. An expert assessment has it that though Pakistan’s inclusion in the grey list may hurt its image in the international landscape, its economic impact will not be as severe as being portrayed. This is because when Pakistan was part of the grey list/blacklist (2008-2015), it successfully approached multilateral bodies, floated international bonds and had international trades. Hopefully Pakistan will be able to come out or grey list in September 2019, however it must follow consistent economic policies to remain out of such trouble spots. Caretaker government would do a great service by forming a national commission to identify and punish all those responsible for letting the things reverse back after Pakistan’s previous journey to blacklist was over.

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