Reputation and Repercussions

Maleeha Lodhi at UN

Despite the efforts of China to protect us from living up to our promises regarding economic sanctions against terrorists, the Financial Actions Task Force (FATF) has announced that it will be closely monitoring Pakistan’s enforcement of sanctions on designated terrorist groups through the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG). Specifically mentioned were Hafiz Saeed, Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, and Dawood Ibrahim.

This latest announcement follows recent reports that supposed economic sanctions are having virtually no effect on banned groups in Pakistan, including Hafiz Saeed openly mocking the idea that government can do anything to stop him.

“I meet thousands of people every day, I am open and among them,” he said, laughing at his office in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital.

And the government has been equally timid in the face of Hafiz Saeed’s lieutenant, the convicted terrorist Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi.

“A lot of questions are raised, that ‘so and so’ is roaming free, or ‘so and so’ is speaking [publically], but that is not part of what listing of an individual entails,” said Tasneem Aslam, spokesman for Pakistan’s Foreign Office.

“There is no bar on moving within the country. There is no bar on speaking, and there is no requirement of keeping people behind bars.”

It seems the world’s patience for these double games is running out, and this just at the moment when we would like to plead our own case before the UN.

Rumours of Indian support for subversive activities reached new heights with the publication of BBC’s story that MQM received funding and training from India, and now Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN Maleeha Lodhi has reportedly been summoned to Islamabad to discuss presenting our case before the global forum. This is an important move and one that should have been taken earlier if we have actual proof. However, that proof must be more than simply a BBC report. There are two reasons for this.

First reason is that everyone has already seen the BBC report – it is already one week old – and the allegations are nothing new. The ‘authoritative Pakistani source’ appears to be none other than MQM’s Tariq Mir, and that too is hardly likely to impress anyone at the UN. Let us be honest: We have a credibility problem, largely due to the reasons noted in the first part of this post. We have a proven history of telling the world one thing and then doing, well, something a little different if it suits us. If we take our complaint about India’s subversive activities without strong proofs while we are facing strong criticism over terrorism, it will be embarrassing and only worsen our already suffering reputation.

This brings us to the second reason why we need more than BBC’s report: If we insist on the authenticity of BBC’s story about Indian activities, what will we say about other BBC reports that are not so kind to our own activities such as the documentary ‘Secret Pakistan’ that claims that Pakistan is playing a double game and supporting terrorists.

Or the BBC report that says Pakistan is prepared to sell nuclear weapons to Saudi Arabia?

If we walk into the UN and demand action based on one BBC report, we must be prepared to answer serious and uncomfortable questions about other BBC reports.

If we have evidence of India’s involvement in supporting subversive activities, we should present that evidence before the UN. We must also be prepared to answer why we are only doing so now. Most importantly, the evidence we present must be fool proof and our presentation must be made with the understanding that we our making our case having just had our own reputation for reliability put in doubt by the UN Security Council.

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