While the rest of the world was busy dealing with lockdowns and COVID-19 related medical news, Islamabad and its army used this ‘suspended’ time to ‘clean their house’ and deal with a couple of hot issues. In their own way, of course.
And the hottest issue on the table was the FATF meeting. June has come, and again, Pakistan will try and avoid being blacklisted by the FATF. So naturally, Pakistan must keep its house in order.
Due to the increasing scrutiny on the activities of the terror groups in Pakistan by the FATF, the the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has, in the last few months, been tirelessly working towards shifting the training camps of groups like the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad to Afghanistan.
Further, with Taliban’s influence growing in Afghanistan, especially after the US-Taliban Peace Agreement, Pakistan has been finding it easier to operate in the country through the Taliban.
According to local sources, LeT and JeM have gradually set up operational based in Kunar, in Nangarhar and Laghman provinces of Afghanistan. According to the sources, both from Pakistani and Afghani sides of the border, nearly 250 LeT & JeM cadres has been moved by the ISI from Bajaur Agency and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, into Kunar province through the Keka Pass, after completing their arms training camps in Paktia, in Badakhshan, and Wazakhwa district in Paktika.
These cadres support the Taliban in undertaking terror attacks in Afghanistan as well as against the Afghan National Army. The JeM has at least six training camps in Nangarhar, and both JeM and LeT are sharing camps with Taliban cadres.
Rumour has it that even Ibrahim Azhar, one of Masood Azhar’s brothers, is in Afghanistan to look after the ‘family business’.
A recent report published on May 27 by the UN Security Council confirms that: “Jaish-i-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Tayyiba facilitate the trafficking of terrorist fighters into Afghanistan, who act as advisers, trainers and specialists in improvised explosive devices. Both groups are responsible for carrying out targeted assassinations against government officials and others”.
Adding that: “The presence of these groups is centred in the eastern provinces of Kunar, Nangarhar and Nuristan, where they operate under the umbrella of the Afghan Taliban”.
And the activities of terror groups and their ‘charities’ have been going on during all these months, despite everything, all over Pakistan.
Pakistan’s Blatant Violations of FATF Rules
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the elections in Pakistan have been postponed, but the terror machinery has not stopped. Their training and fund collections have intensified, especially the ones focused on Kashmir and Afghanistan. Not only this, and despite Islamabad claiming to have stopped its activities, JeM continued to advertise its training camps and its activities through posters in the streets, advertisements into Urdu newspapers, and through its various publications including Musalman Bachche, Madina-Madina, and O My Sister (a book authored by Masood Azhar).
According to locals, not only are these publications openly available, but some also prove to be fund-collection tools. This is in clear violation of FATF regulation, and contradicts Pakistan’s claim that it has been ‘containing activities’ of the terrorists groups. But the move, nevertheless, seemed to work.
No need for Pakistan to ‘Whitewash’ this time
The FATF decided, once again, to keep Pakistan on their grey list, and there was no need to take the other usual ‘big steps’ in counter-terrorism. Jailing for the 100th time an already-jailed Mohammed Hafiz Saeed, for example, which has now become a national sport, or parading their ‘good’ terrorist Ehasanullah Ehsan, who had ‘escaped’ from an ISI safe house, and is most likely in Rawalpindi at the moment.
This time, most probably because of the leverage the country gained with the ‘peace agreement’ in Afghanistan, there was not even the need for the usual ‘whitewashing’ in the wake of the FATF meeting, to show more ‘proofs’ of Pakistan’s goodwill and their efforts to fight terror groups.
The UN knows, the US knows, the rest of the world knows. And despite this, the farce goes on, each time with the same script, and with the FATF pretending to believe in it. Despite the independent reports they get, despite evidences and the reality. In ancient Rome, Cicero would have asked: “For how long will you abuse our patience?”