M D Nalapat
Turkey hosts leaders of many groups tethered to violent solutions to political problems. Indications are President Erdogan gave command to ‘stand by Pakistan come what may’.
The “Wuhan Spirit” ensured that China joined with India, the United States, Russia and the European Union in rejecting the bid of Turkey to take Pakistan off the “Grey List” of terror funding of the 37-nation Financial Action Task Force at its plenary meeting in Paris last week. The Pakistan delegation sought the support of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, China and Turkey to be taken off the Grey List of countries that have made unsatisfactory progress in stopping terror funding. Should Islamabad not show visible progress in stopping terror funding within 15 months, it will be placed on the terror Black List, which at present includes only Iran and North Korea. The Pakistan delegation argued that “Muslim nations should stand together” against any move by FATF to place “the world’s second largest Muslim country” on the Grey List, aware that it was only a short step from there to the Black List, which would make it mandatory for the world’s significant trading nations to impose financial sanctions on Pakistan. Inspired by the fight-back against Wahhabism by Saudi Arabia under the direction of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman and the rejection of extremist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood by another important Muslim country, Egypt, the GCC rejected such lobbying and pointed out that Muslims themselves have been the worst victims of terrorism and therefore should unite in support of moves to choke off funding to terror groups.
Interestingly, Turkey has found itself on such a list on multiple occasions, and now hosts the leaders of several groups tethered to violent solutions to political problems. Soundings within Ankara indicate that President Erdogan himself gave the command to “stand by Pakistan come what may” out of worry that the same label may get affixed to Turkey. Under President Erdogan, as many as 15 armed extremist groups, active mostly in the Middle East, have substantial segments of their leadership resident in Turkey, including two groups associated with the Pakistan army’s ongoing campaign of terror against India.
Although several calls were made from Rawalpindi GHQ to the headquarters of the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) in Beijing to ensure that China joined with Turkey in getting Pakistan dropped from the Grey List, now that President Xi Jinping has taken charge of the “India Account” (the way Prime Minister Narendra Modi has in the case of China), it was not possible for pro-Pakistan voices in the PLA to join hands with pro-Pakistan, India-phobic elements in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in Beijing to make the Chinese delegation at the FATF plenary side with Pakistan at the expense of those countries that were longstanding victims of Pakistan terror groups. Saudi Arabia in particular had been lobbied very hard by the Pakistan delegation at the plenary meeting, but that country stood behind India in the matter of ensuring that Pakistan was on the Grey List. Although as yet the pro-Pakistan lobby in the PLA is blocking UN action against certain leaders of Jaish as well as Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, at the Paris meet, the Chinese delegation did not demur when these entities were all included in the list of organisations to which funds should be cut off totally, no matter the fake names they operate by. Although the Pakistan delegation swore, for example, that funds to Hafiz Saeed as well as his media access have been cut off, during 2015 and 2016 there were nearly 70 Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) public rallies in Pakistan, almost all of which was reported by the Pakistan media, which is known in its reporting to go by the wishes of the ISI. On average, there were nine violent incidents per month in Jammu & Kashmir that were caused by those sent across the border from the well-funded terror training camps in Pakistan. Of course, the JuD has now morphed into the Tehreek-e-Azaadi-e-Jammu & Kashmir (TAJK) from mid-January last year. And while Hafiz Saeed has been “detained” in 4-star comfort, both Abdul Rehman Makki and Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi (both designated as terrorists by the US) remain free to roam across Pakistan and recruit impressionable youths to their terror outfits, the destructive purpose of which gets described by LeT and JuD leaders publicly in speeches every day. As for Saeed, while still technically in detention, he gave a live press conference outside the JuD headquarters to 11 media channels, in each of which he threatened violence and mass terror in India. Saeed continues to reside at 4 Chauburji, Lahore, and runs a network of colleges and hospitals that receive money from Pakistan and outside, especially the Middle East.
The LeT still operates not only in India but in Europe and Afghanistan, and there are reports that it is setting up a base in the US. Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FiF) has now spread to 13 countries, including Turkey, Indonesia, Myanmar, Somalia and Yemen. Terror groups active in Pakistan and from there to other countries include TAJK, FiF, HuNM, ISIS, HuD, JeD and the various strands of the Taliban. It is unlikely that GHQ Rawalpindi will stop funding such auxiliary organisations in the 15 months’ grace period FATF has given it. Thus far, the Pakistan army was confident that China would block action against it as a sponsor of terror, no matter what it did in every country except of course China. However, the Wuhan Spirit created by the Modi-Xi discussions has ensured that Beijing joined hands with India and other countries to hold Pakistan to account for its use of terror as a weapon of war. China being on the same page as India on the issue of terror factories and their funding during the Paris plenary, shows that Xi will no longer allow certain elements in the military to blindly back Islamabad at the expense of China’s reputation as a fighter against the terror factories of the world, many of which operate from Pakistan.