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India between denial and despair!

Pakistan has briefed P-5 and EU on the arrest of serving Commander of Indian Navy Kulbashan Yadav employed by India in spy-state terrorist’s role, and his confession of involvement in state-terrorism and subversive activities in Pakistan. The international community is also being briefed through Pakistan’s missions abroad. His confession also confirmed what the then American defence secretary Mr Chuck Hagel had said in 2013 that India finances troubles in Pakistan from Afghanistan! Moreover, while in Bangladesh in 2015, Indian Prime Minister was fool hardy enough or comically arrogant to publicly state Indian government’s role in Pakistan’s breakup in 1971.

Pakistan has rightly asked Tehran to investigate and share details of Indian spy Commander Kulbhushan Yadav’s activities in Iran, along with those of his colleague, Sub-Inspector Rakesh alias Rizwan. A two-page reference was handed over to Iranian ambassador, Mehdi Honardoost, seeking information on RAW network in Iran. Iran’s cooperation in this regard will not only improve relations between the two countries but also help reduce terrorism and unrest in the region. Iran owes this to Pakistan.

Deep involvement of RAW in fomenting trouble in Pakistan has always been an open secret. Way back in 1990s, the then Indian High Commissioner had dared to threaten Pakistani Army chief that India had heavily invested in Karachi and should Pakistan continue supporting the Kashmir’s struggle (for right of self-determination), India would pay back in Karachi, and that Pakistan could lose Karachi.

Pakistan has always been shy to take up the matter bilaterally with India and highlighting firmly it at international forums. Had Pakistan earlier taken up the issue of Research and Analysis Wing’s (RAW) subversive activities with the international community, Narendra Modi and RAW would not have been so much emboldened. First departure was made by Pakistan during NAM summit 2009, in Egypt when a dossier containing information regarding Indian subversive activities in Balochistan was handed over by Pakistan to India at prime minsters’ level. Pakistan later handed over three dossiers to UN Secretary General in September 2015.

RAW has made deep penetrations in numerous ethno-sectarian entities of Pakistan. Indian interest in Balochistan redoubled with surfacing of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Indian Prime Minister openly announced in China that CPEC was not acceptable to India. Soon after a special fund worth US$ 300 million was setup to propel a project to disrupt CPEC under the direct supervision of Indian national security advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval.

Yadav’s activities were nothing short of state-sponsored terrorism. In his confessional the video, Yadav appeared relaxed as he acknowledged carrying out a long list of operations in Baluchistan and Karachi. Yadav has stated that he was directly handled by Indian NSA, RAW chief and a Joint Secretary of RAW, Anil Kumar Gupta. As usual, India has denied that Commander Yadav is an intelligence operative. Yadav said he was tasked with meeting Baloch separatists for carrying out activities of “criminal nature, leading to the killing or maiming of Pakistani citizens…There are finances which are led into the Baloch movement through various contacts or ways and means.” RAW’s activities, according to the Indian spy, centred on the ports of Gwadar, Pasni, Jewani and other installations in Balochistan.

Also, Investigation into Pathankot is proving to be another Achilles’ heel for India. Through restrictive cooperation with Pakistan’s visiting joint investigating team (JIT), India has demonstrated that it is not at all interested in finding out truth about the Pathankot terror attack and is only interested to exploit the incident as a tool for Pakistan bashing. India did take the joint investigation team to the Pathankot air base, where they were allowed access only for a few minutes.

In all good faith Pakistan had given an unwavering commitment to India to help it in the investigation process to unmask the real culprits and masterminds of the attack. However, it appears that Indian side has some skeletons in the cupboard which it is afraid of getting exposed. May be this attack was also a false flag operation to disrupt foreign secretary level talks.

Pakistan wanted to bring out the real truth behind the whole incident. However, the Indian side did not reciprocate, rather it maintained its obstinacy. The JIT was provided scanty evidence which is not sufficient to complete the investigation. The JIT wanted to talk to the personnel involved in the operation against terrorists and also visit the whole vicinity of the airbase but the Indian side denied the JIT access to its personnel as well as the main areas in the airbase.

Pakistani investigators had asked for the recordings of the telephonic calls of SP Salwinder Singh, his wife and related individuals along with contacted numbers and copies of the three First Investigation Reports (FIR) that were registered after the incident but this information was denied. Furthermore, sketches of the perpetrators, Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) camera footage, duty registers of the Border Security Forces (BSF) officers, details of bank accounts, service records, post-mortem report of the driver who died in the car accident at the time of the incident and the FIR report of that very car’s snatching have also not been provided to the investigation team. Post-mortem reports of the alleged terrorists involved in the attack, their DNA reports, phone records and information regarding the base commander of Pathankot airbase have also not been made available to the Pakistani investigation team in India.

Narratives of the Indian government and the BSF regarding the attack contradict with one another. According to the former, the intruders that attacked the base infiltrated into India from Pakistan through a border near Beas River whereas BSF is of the view that no one crossed the border from the particular area mentioned by the government.

As per reports issued by Indian authorities, the terrorists decapitated a Sikh after infiltrating into India but left an SP, his driver and cook in order to make sure that some individuals who witnessed the event remain behind. Reports by Indian side further state that the terrorists entered inside the Pathankot airbase after climbing the 10 feet tall walls with the help of ropes. However, no ropes were retrieved as evidences. The Indian government also dismisses claims of insider to the terrorists.

Perception is snowballing that Indian intent is not to provide any substance to Pakistani investigators for moving further on Pathankot terror incident as it was nothing else but just a drama, created by Indian Intelligence Bureau (IB) to dent Foreign secretary level and NSA-level Talks. Indians are doing everything to hide what actually happened at Pathankot. Pakistani investigation team has handed over a detailed request for Assistance for Collection of Evidence. No fresh evidence has been shared by the Indian side except minor things. During discussion on proof of infiltration, Indians have replied that they do not have any credible proof about border fence breaching. Indian side has admitted that data / photos / emails about attackers had not been collected through any official or intelligence source but internet. Under the circumstanced, JIT may not be able to complete the investigations; this suits India as it would continue to use the incident for maligning Pakistan.

Pakistan did well by releasing video tape of the RAW Yadav’s confession. This would make those elements in Pakistan rethink their approach of faulting Pakistan for not improving relations with India. Hopefully, the issue would not end at release of the video and Pakistani leadership would continue raising such issues forcefully with India and members of the international community.

Pakistan should take-up the details of handiwork of RAW at all international forums and strengthen its lobby, through diplomacy, for formally approaching monitoring and implementation committee of UNSC Resolution 1540 for declaring India a state sponsoring terrorism.

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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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