Dubai: “Good Taliban, Bad Taliban.”
It is time to end this hypocritical strategy towards heavily-armed militant groups fighting either in Pakistan or Afghanistan.
Pakistan has always fought against "Bad Taliban", such as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a group that challenged Pakistan government’s writ in certain areas, including Swat and Wazirastan in the past.
The "Good Taliban" is believed to be those militant groups largely active in Afghanistan and other fronts, including Kashmir that posed little harm to Pakistan.
It is time to end this selective crackdown.
This discriminatory approach against militant groups as Pakistan has suffered a lot since 9/11 due to this double standard.
And due to this approach, it also alleged that Pakistan "harboured" such groups for some gains — and, reportedly, to put pressure on the international communities, especially the US.
It is welcome news that Pakistan has finally announced that it will launch a "stern" crackdown on religious, militant and charity groups suspected to have links with terrorist outfits banned by the UN Security Council.
The crackdown should be launched across the board this time. And the nation's armed forces should not target only select militant groups, as the others will always come back to haunt them as has been the case in the past.
Pakistan’s foreign office said in a statement on Monday that the government has issued the “United Nations Security Council (Freezing and Seizure) Order, 2019” in line with the standards of the UNSC and Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
It means Pakistan will completely freeze and seize assets of individuals and entities designated by the United Nations Security Council.
The FATF is an inter-governmental body that combats money laundering, terror financing and threats to the international financial system.
68NUmber of organisations and splinter outfits have been notified by the Pakistan government as "proscribed".
It put Pakistan on its "grey list" because of deficiencies in the country’s Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Countering of Terrorist Financing (CTF) regulations.
68 banned outfits
Some 68 organisations and splinter outfits have been notified by the Pakistan government as "proscribed".
"The Good Taliban and the Bad Taliban" approach had severe backlash in Pakistan time and again because whenever Pakistan tried to control these groups, they were further sub-divided into splinter groups.
Some listened to Pakistani forces to stop activities and surrerder, while many others refused to surrender and instead started challenging the armed forces.
And this problem kept the armed forces engaged during the last two decades in the war against terrorism.
Morever, whenever any such group claimed responsibility of any terror attack – like the one in Pulwama – the Pakistani government was blamed for not taking action against them.
Shun the policy
Recently, a senior Pakhtun nationalist leader Mian Ifikhar Hussain, whose son was also killed by the Taliban a few years ago, once again asked Pakistani authorities to shun the policy of "good and the bad Taliban" in the interest of lasting peace in the region.
The Awami National Party (ANP) leader and former provincial information minister, Hussain said the situation was rapidly changing globally and Pakistan should revisit its policies to spruce up its international image.
“All stakeholders must take action against the menace of terrorism as outlawed groups were still active in Pakistan under different names,” he claimed.
Pakistan decided to take "decisive" action after the meeting of the National Action Plan committee meeting this week. The decision has not been taken just as a follow up to the Pulwama attack which escalated tensions between India and Pakistan and brought them close to another war.
The decision was been taken to get Pakistan out of the grey list of the FATF which alleged Pakistan has failed to stop terror financing.
Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal said the government has taken over the control of all proscribed outfits operating in the country.
“[From now onwards], all kinds of assets and properties of all banned organisations will be in the government’s control,” the spokesperson told Pakistani media.
He said the government will now also seize the charity wings and ambulances of such banned outfits.
National Action Plan meeting
A high-level meeting was held at the interior ministry to discuss the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP). During the huddle, the interior ministry directed all provincial governments to “speed up” action against banned organisations, a spokesperson for the ministry said.
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry also confirmed that the government had taken a firm decision that there would be stern action against all militant groups. This, he said, was in accordance with the political consensus contained in the NAP.
The action against all means that militant groups such as Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), which has been accused of masterminding the Pulwama attack, and Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) and its charity wing Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation (FIF), will be under the scanner and may be eliminated completely.
According to reports, the National Security Committee had in its February 21 meeting “decided to accelerate action against proscribed organisations” and ordered the re-imposition of the ban on JuD and FIF.
Imran Khan wants to eradicate militancy
Prime Minister Imran Khan had on that occasion, while emphasising eradication of “militancy and extremism” from society, said the state could not be allowed to “become hostage to extremists”.
He said the action would help deal with the issues arising out of the FATF listing.
Pakistan, despite making significant progress on the initial concerns of FATF, came under renewed pressure at the Paris plenary last month.
Pakistani officials said in addition to Jamaat ud Dawa and its welfare wing the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation, Pakistan has also frozen assets of other major banned outfits include the Daesh, Taliban, Al-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Haqqani Network. Now the focus will divert to all the 68 outfits listed under banned outfit category.
Need to create employment for ‘militants’
Pakistan has criminalised both money laundering and terrorist financing. But the country has not been able to enforce these laws effectively.
Being on the grey list doesn’t come with any sanctions, but if we remain on this list, we face the risk of being put on the black list. This is where it gets problematic.
It is time that the Pakistan government focuses on religious extremists groups as many of them are breeding grounds for terrorist outfits. There should be a blanket ban on funding and raising charity for these organistations.
But again, Imran’s government should also come up with both short and long terms plan to accommodate members of these outfit in the mainstream by creating employment opportunities for them. Lest they divide into more splinter groups to ‘earn their living.’