Pakistan's terror-friendly tag and economic decline has also had an impact on the political standing of the country
Pakistan has repeatedly been in news recently, albeit for all the wrong reasons. Its continuation in the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) grey list, the incessant economic downslide, bordering on to the state of bankruptcy, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visits to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and China for obtaining frequent economic bailout packages and uninterrupted militant attacks on economic and military installations, all in all, if one is a Pakistani, these are not the very pleasant times to be one.
While Pakistan for long has been alleged to be a safe haven for terrorists, targeting civilian and security targets in India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Iran, the country has been at pains denying such charges. However, there have been credible inputs and belief in government circles around the world that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s intelligence agency that is run and managed by its all-powerful army, has been playing a duplicitous game in aiding, abetting and financing terror groups in neighbouring countries to promote its political goals.
Though India continued to charge Pakistan since the 1990s with supporting and promoting terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab, the world continued ignoring them since Islamabad was an important pillar of global power games being played in Afghanistan. The US needed it because it wanted to enhance its relationship with China to isolate Russia. However, the World Trade Centre bombing in New York and subsequent killing of the terror mastermind Osama bin Laden in Pakistan by US Navy SEALS changed all that. The global perception, especially the US establishment’s, got more negative about Pakistan after its role in the rapid installation of the Taliban government became clear to the world.
Pakistan and terror
In between, there have been a good number of individual incidents in France, the UK, the US and other countries where citizens of Pakistani origin have attacked civilians and security forces in support of perceived Islamic goals and objectives. The recent taking over of hostages and shootout at Texas to free Aafia Siddiqui, who is linked to Al-Qaeda, by a Pakistani and previous Pakistani government efforts to repatriate her to the home country further corroborated this international thinking.
Pakistan continues to blame India for its alleged role in not letting it off the hook from FATF, adding misery to its economic plight., The fact is that when Pakistan remains hospitable to dreaded terror groups like Jaish-e-Mohammed, Laskhar-i-Taiba, Laskar-e-Omar, Sipah-e-Sahaba, Jaish-ul-Adl, Jaish-ul-Mujahideen, Harkat ul Mujaihideen and many others, one cannot simply turn a blind eye to this issue. Pakistan cannot really hope to keep nurturing violent terrorists on its soil and hope to blame India and carry on its subversive activities abroad.
The unpopular demonetization exercise that was initiated by the Modi government in 2016 had a few positive results. One of them was the forfeiting of Indian currency used by ISI to finance its terror activities in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Iran and others received a big hit. Also, China itself blames Pakistan, though unofficially, for promoting the Uighur unrest.
In its defence Pakistan puts forward the large number of terror attacks it has faced in the last few years. But that has happened because there has been en masse radicalization of the country while terrorists there, nurtured by the ISI to foment trouble especially in India, have started using the local recruits in Pakistan.
On the economic front, while Pakistan had a head start over India in the 1960s, using its resources on India-bashing and a single point agenda to snatch away Kashmir from India, ultimately led to its own Balkanisation, resulting in the formation of Bangladesh. Further infuriated, Pakistani politicians ventured on an Islamic nuclear bomb and strategize for the break-up of India with support to terrorists in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir, gradually leading the country to economic ruin.
The situation has become so bad that the current Prime Minister Imran Khan has to use the alibi of visiting Beijing to see the Winter Olympic Games to virtually beg an audience with Chinese President Xi Jinping (who granted it on the fourth and last day of the visit, hours before Khan’s departure to Islamabad) to ensure that Pakistan is given some loans, again. Saudi Arabia and the UAE too provided loans with humiliating terms while the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreed to a $ 1 billion package while compelling it to hand it over the functional autonomy of the central bank, the State bank of Pakistan (SBP).
Pakistan's terror-friendly tag and economic decline has also had an impact on the political standing of the country. All Arab countries that Pakistan used to count as brothers today merely have a functional relationship with it while the Taliban, which was helped by Islamabad to take power in Afghanistan, is having border conflict along the Durand Line, resulting in the death of many Pakistani soldiers.
Imran Khan is desperate to receive a phone call from US President Joe Biden while it is reported that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has on occasions not taken calls from him. No world leader is visiting the country for quite some time. On Imran Khan’s foreign visits too, he is repeatedly cold shouldered.
The February 2 attacks by the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) on Pakistani military installations at Nushki and Punjgur, leading to the death of many soldiers (officially, Pakistan admitted only 12 deaths while unconfirmed reports suggest more than six-seven times the official figure), and incessant attacks on the military in Khyber Pakhtunwa, killing of highly guarded Chinese engineers working on the CPEC projects, suggest that even the Pakistan Army is finding it difficult to control the situation.
The frequent violence perpetrated by the Tehrik-e-Labbaik Pakistan, killing of policemen in cities, international isolation and a bankrupt economy, all are evident that the country is in a very difficult state and staring at an uncertain future.
(The writer is a librarian, Indian Railways. Views are personal. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)