JUI: Heading towards Political Unrest

The shattering economic condition of Pakistan is paving way for the Islamist party which has started to threaten the government of Pakistan and is leading towards political unrest.  The party is trying to turn the country into a battlefield after Imran Khan refused to step down the demand made by the leadership of the party. Maulana Fazal ur Rehman’s “freedom march” protest has gained enough support from opposition parties. It is expected that this group will encourage thousands of people from the chain of madrassas that it is operating across Pakistan and will bring them out to the streets. Owing to the other parties like Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), JUI-F has managed base to support his cause.

Following Deobandi School, the members of JUI-F have strived and have played a great role in politics. Considering the economic condition of Pakistan, Fazal ur Rehman has made economy the essence of his campaign against Prime Minister Imran Khan. According to Fazal “This government always tries to deflect people’s attention from its economic failures. But the agony caused by inflation and the end of manufacturing is not attracting them to the government’s claims of going ahead with an accountability drive (aimed at weeding out corruption).”

Fazal ur Rehman considers inflation as a number one issue, therefore, people affected by inflation, unemployment and increased taxes find his judgment appealing. The railways’ minister Sheikh Rashid alleged Maulana Mufti Mehmood father of Maulana Fazal ur Rehman of using religion as a tool for political gains. He advised Fazal ur Rehman not to involve himself in religious agitation in the country as it will affect the Kashmir freedom movement by stating that “I want to give a message to religious forces that the Maulana is going to lead a clash on politics and religious issues.” Fazal ur Rehman’s protest will further aggravate the political instability which will contribute to the economic misery and will shock overall businesses and the economy.

JUI-F has always been exploiting the civil-military differences to make space for its political interests. The party has been observing that it has been sidelined by the government from national politics. Moreover, JUI-F is concerned about mainstreaming of around 30,000 religious seminaries including institutes run by it, which will further isolate the party’s hold over its political base stemming from these seminaries. JUI’s intention to go against the government and remove it from power is unlikely rather it will create political unrest.

JUI’s march against the government is going to be based on highlighting civilian government failure to deal with the ongoing situation in Jammu and Kashmir and country’s willingness to recognize Israel as a state. Moreover, JUI-F is intending to mount pressure on the government because of the government’s agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). However, the other parties intending to make a move against the government will observe JUI’s failure because if it is unable to deliver and make an impact the political opposition of the country will be sidelined.

 




Financial Action Task Force: Way Forward for Pakistan

Pakistan is one of those countries which are most vulnerable to terror financing and money laundering that is emerging from different terrorist groups operating in country. The Asia Pacific Group APG presented the final Mutual Evaluation Report after which Pakistan’s chances of being retained in grey list are quite high. In its National Risk Assessment report Pakistan has been denying the fact that money laundering and terror finances is a high-risk issue and considers it a medium risk. On the other hand, Pakistan has been under the continuous threat of terror financing from its porous borders, DNFBPs (Designated non-Financial Businesses and Professions). Out of 40 recommendations Pakistan was fully compliant only on one, mainly compliant on 9, no-compliant on four and partially compliant on 26 recommendations of FATF. Pakistan’s performance was considered effective only on one benchmark that led APG to place Pakistan on Enhanced Follow up list.

The Pakistani delegation left for Bangkok to meet the Financial Action Task Force officials from September 8 to 10. Pakistan had to face FATF as a part of efforts to exclude its name from “grey list” and which will scrutinize the country’s performance before the final review meeting. Pakistan is under great pressure to ensure compliance before October 2019 as the final deadline was September 2019. Failure to do so might cripple the economic condition of the country.

Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an international task force that is created for the government, by the government in order to fight the undesirable consequences of money laundering. FATF born in 1989 was created in response to the difficulties of money laundering and was initiated by G7 countries including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.  These countries felt the need for international cooperation. FATF started with 16 members and the number rose to 35 members. Among these 35 members, 8 are regional bodies which mean that 180 jurisdictions are a part of the FATF family. The rules and conducts set by FATF have to be followed by the member countries

Pakistan has failed to implement the UNSC resolutions against 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed and other terrorists associated with terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jamat-ud-Dawa. The resolutions are related to curbing money laundering and terror financing in Pakistan. The FATF report came a week before when the agency had to decide whether to retain Pakistan in a “grey list”. Pakistan was placed on the grey list in June 2018 and was given a chance to complete the action by Oct 2019 or to get ready to face the risk of being placed on the blacklist with North Korea and Iran. Whereas on the other hand, Pakistan’s government is trying to follow the FATF recommendations. So, Pakistan certainly is not a part of the non-complaint category. Partial compliance in 26 areas is technical compliance. Pakistan has gained some confidence after being supported by China, Turkey and Malaysia but India with the support of the United States emphasized on Pakistan’s blacklisting.

Pakistan is well aware of the fact that the presence of US and India on FATF forum is an obstacle for its case as both the countries are trying to isolate Islamabad on International level. Whereas, China’s position on FATF can be beneficial for Pakistan to implement its policies according to the forum. Pakistan is faced with the challenge to do more against terrorism because of the ambiguity in legislation which needs clarification. The US and India came up with evidence against Pakistan therefore Islamabad need to do something to strengthen its case because Pakistan is not in a condition to bear the shock of blacklisting. The way forward Pakistan could be politicizing the case with the support of China and showing commitment towards addressing the gaps in legislation.

 




USA Military Aid to Pakistan – Recent Developments

Pakistan’s geographical location and borders sharing with states like India, Afghanistan and Iran made it impossible to achieve peace without weapons and military advancement. Pakistan has always been under constant threat of being attacked directly or circuitously. We are witness to all the attempts of subverting Pakistan from within and India has been actively participating in that. By keeping in view the deterioration of economic condition and increase in advanced defense system USA has been providing military assistance to Pakistan since long. The unfortunate incident of 9/11 became a challenge for Pakistan to fight against terrorism and militancy along with other internal and external challenges.

To crack down on militants and their safe havens in Pakistan USA passed five year plan 2009-2014 under former president Barak Obama and $7.5 billion worth of assistance was provided. This bill also created a bit of cleft between civil and military leadership in Pakistan because it was looked upon as threat to sovereignty by military. Along with internal and external security threats, even though Pakistan lost thousands of citizens and military personnel and billions of dollars to this fight, it was constantly hammered to destroy militant’s safe havens in Pakistan and USA kept warning Pakistan that if they found any traces of attacks on USA soil back to Pakistan there will be severe consequences.

After Obama the pressure mounted when Trump started the chant of “Do More” because Pakistan was given $33 billion since 2002 to fight the militants and accused Pakistan of quietly supporting Haqqani network and providing militants with safety on their soil. It was said that rather fighting terror, Pakistani military used $200 million funds for armament, anti-missile defense system and fighter aircrafts including F-16s when the terrorists had no air attack capability. Pakistan has received about $15 billion over the past 15 years including funds for Foreign Military Financing, Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund and International Military Education and Training funds. In January 2018, USA announced that it was suspending $900 million of security aid and military equipment to Pakistan because it failed to fight effectively against terrorists and militancy.

Pakistan was ashamed and accused internationally for not putting “enough efforts” and just using USA for the sake of money. The relationship was sore between Pakistan and USA until the recent meeting of president Trump and PM Imran Khan where the PM of Pakistan emphasized that USA and Pakistan need to have a good working relationship to proceed ahead on good terms. Trump showed optimism by saying that USA and Pakistan have better relationship now and that USA State Department will provide Pakistan $125 million for its F-16 aircraft’s technical assistance. PM Khan further assured president Trump that Pakistan will do whatever it takes to keep going the peace process and that there are and never will be any safe havens for militants in Pakistan.




Historic Election in KP – (Former FATA)

By Saddam Tahir

After 72 long years of Pakistan political history, first-ever provincial elections were conducted in KPK tribal district of former FATA and the decision of adding these areas under Pakistan’s administration and in constitutional mainstream has been finally taken. The poll took place across the seven districts (Bajaur, Mohmand, Khyber, Kurram, Orakzai, North Waziristan, South Waziristan) securing 16 provincial assembly seats in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly.

Former FATA is the area where once Tehreek Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was being flourished and developed. Now things have changed and territories are merged into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. Five million inhabitants of former FATA have exercised their right to vote for candidate under constitutional amendments. Former FATA, once the hub of armed groups and all the seven districts were under the immense influence of TTP and its allies, is now almost secured with isolated resistance still being contested by the security forces.

Series of Military operations were performed since 2007 to overpower the militants and create a peaceful environment for the people of former FATA. These militants fled to Afghanistan to find support and shelter to fight back. Pakistan Army started operation on July 13th, 2011 TRI-STAR against the Pakistan Taliban in former FATA that created a big shift in the environment. Rest of the gap was filled by Zarb-e- Azb that was launched on June 15th, 2014.

After calculated success in the southern parts of former FATA, Pakistani security forces began operations against militants elsewhere in the country. There was some cooperation among networks operating in northern parts of former FATA. A series of attacks on government agencies, including ISI, Frontier Corps, and Army personnel, forced the army to retaliate that resulted in many civilian and military personnel causalities. But now holding a free and fair election in all seven districts is a big success. People of former FATA have put their faith in Pakistan’s government and military and came out to cast vote without any fear even after witnessing all the trauma and chaos.

People are hopeful that the polls will pave the way for good governance, provision of quality education for their children, improvement of health system, and employment of youth, and law and order situation. Creating Employment in the area is also one of the main issue for government. The post-merger era is a big challenge for the PTI government and state institutions. People of former FATA now have representatives in the provisional assembly who can bring all the issues of the area under the consideration of Pakistan government.  Former FATA was grazing filed for the government officials because of the un-accountable funds and mal-practices. Officers serving in the erstwhile tribal agencies were not answerable to anybody. Now they are demanding a proper procedure through which funds could be spent on welfare of people and the authorities are answerable to the government.

Annual Budget for the tribal districts have been increased from R.s 21 billion to R.s 83 billion and it will get another R.s 100 billion per annum from the National Finance Commission Award at the rate of three percent, which is a big achievement. Living conditions of former FATA will change if development funds are utilized judiciously. The election is a major step in mainstreaming the former FATA by giving the inhabitants representation for the first time in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly.