The future of Pak’s FATF in limbo with its continued involvement in Afghanistan

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While Pakistan has retained its position on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) graylist and given another opportunity to avoid being blacklisted, its involvement continues along the border with Afghanistan may not bode well for its future in terms of its aspirations for FATF status.

Days before its full-scale review meeting, the FATF had berated Pakistan for its “ meager progress ” in the fight against terrorist financing and money laundering, while the Asia-Pacific Group (APG ) of the FATF had expressed its displeasure, as Pakistan has so far followed only two of the 40 recommendations made to address the issues of combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism, reported Don McLain Gill for the Center for Peace Asia.

Pakistan’s concessions are believed to have a lot to do with the presumption that Pakistan will adopt a line of support with the United States as part of the crucial peace deal with the Taliban. However, fragments of evidence from several intelligence reports suggest that Pakistan has started nesting terrorist networks in Taliban safe havens in Afghanistan.

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The Center for Peace Asia wrote that although Pakistan has desperately tried to erase its footprints through its so-called “crackdown on terrorism”, evidence has shown that the “relatively ungoverned areas” along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, especially in Kunar, Nangarhar, Paktia, Khost, Paktika, Zabul and Kandhar provinces in eastern Afghanistan have enabled Pakistan to set up camps and training bases terrorist, with the active support and cooperation of the Taliban, the Haqqani network and al-Qaeda.

It can be assumed that a link has developed between the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) with the province of Khorasan (IS-KP ). In the region.

In addition, Pakistani agencies’ ties to IS-KP, Haqqani Network, JeM and LeT remain exposed of late if any scattered points need to be reached. Huzaifa al-Bakistani, who was killed in a drone strike in Nangarhar Province was a former member of LeT, who together with his stepfather Aijaz Ahangar (Usman al Kashmiri), leader of the ISKP and former member of Pakistan-backed groups namely Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen (TuM ) and Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM), handled ISIS affairs centered on India.

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The recent attack on Jalalabad prison in August 2020 was a joint effort by sections affiliated with Pakistani agencies, ISKP and HQN who worked very closely together.

The threads linking Pakistani agencies to the IS-KP became more apparent after the arrest of Maulavi Abdullah Orakzai aka Aslam Farooqi on April 4, 2020. This galvanized the Pakistani authorities to summon the Afghan ambassador to Pakistan to request custody by Aslam Farooqi.

Pakistan allegedly claimed responsibility for Farooqi on the grounds that it had committed acts of violence against the Pakistani state. However, Kabul refused to give in to the demand, Center for Peace Asia wrote.

These proxies, having lines of communication with Pakistan, have planned to target Indian interests in Afghanistan, such as the recent attack on the Sikh sanctuary.

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While Pakistan’s symbiotic relationship with the Taliban in Afghanistan is a compelling necessity to gain strategic depth against India, a renewal of the Afghan-Pakistani terrorist link may not be conducive to peace in this already troubled Asian region.

This series of events does not bode well for Pakistan’s desire for favorable status as an anti-terrorist advocate, but it will only further complicate its position within the FATF.

Gill wrote that there would be a lot of pressure on the government to deal with Pakistan’s graylist status in the long run. Pakistan is clearly following a complex path towards its goals of escaping the FATF gray list, particularly with its indirect involvement in Afghanistan.

The country must meaningfully address the issues of supporting and financing terrorism while adhering to the FATF recommendations to have any chance of improving its status.

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