‘Staying on FATF Grey List is hardly cause for celebration.’

Instead of seeking to get off terror watch lists, Imran Khan’s Naya Pakistan is celebrating that Pakistan has remained on the FATF Grey list. Till some years back, the government’s efforts were aimed at getting Pakistan off the FATF, not celebrating staying on the list!

At the latest meeting of the UN mandated Financial Action Task Force (FATF) held on Friday October 18, it was announced that Pakistan would remain on the grey list till February 2020.

“The task force directed Islamabad to take more measures for complete elimination of terror financing and money laundering while expressing serious concerns over the lack of progress in addressing terror financing risks. “The FATF strongly urges Pakistan to swiftly complete its full action plan by February 2020,” it said in its statement. “Otherwise, should significant and sustainable progress not be made across the full range of its action plan by the next Plenary, the FATF will take action.”

Further, FATF expressed “serious concerns with the overall lack of progress by Pakistan to address its TF risks, including remaining deficiencies in demonstrating a sufficient understanding of Pakistan’s transnational TF risks, and more broadly, Pakistan’s failure to complete its action plan in line with the agreed timelines and in light of the TF risks emanating from the jurisdiction,” the statement read. “To date, Pakistan has only largely addressed five of 27 action items, with varying levels of progress made on the rest of the action plan. “The FATF strongly urges Pakistan to swiftly complete its full action plan by February 2020.”

Instead of being concerned about remaining on the grey list and the fear of being added to the blacklist, Pakistan’s leaders and business elite appear to believe in the Pakistan army’s ability to resolve their problems. On October 2nd, General Bajwa informed the group of business leaders who met him that “he was confident that Pakistan would stave off the blacklist and be shifted from the current ‘grey’ to the normal category in the next review.”

Naya Pakistan slips on Global Competitiveness Rankings!

According to the latest Global Competitiveness Index released on October 9, Pakistan has slipped from 107 to 110 rank out of 141 countries. This is the second consecutive year that Pakistan has continued to slide” in 2017, Pakistan stood at 106, it fell to 107 in 2018 and in 2019 it stands at 110.

This index “provides a detailed map of the factors and attributes that drive productivity, growth and human development in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. With an overall ranking of 110, Pakistan was at 107 for institutions; 105 for infrastructure; 131 for ICT adoption; 116 for macroeconomic stability; 115 for health; 125 for skills; 126 for product market; 120 for labour market; 99 for financial system; 29 for market size; 52 for business dynamism; and 79 for innovation capacity.”

Even in South Asia, Pakistan’s rank is the lowest with India at 68, Sri Lanka at 84, Bangladesh at 105, and Nepal at 108.

Baluchistan Report says province is being shortchanged

On September 28, a blast in Balochistan killed three people, including an opposition political leader, Maulana Mohamad Hanif, Deputy Secretary General of the opposition party Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F). The political neglect of Balochistan at a time when the province continues to face repression by the deep state is the subject of the latest fact finding report released by the The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP).

Titled Balochistan: Neglected Still, the report points out: “Incidents of enforced disappearance continue: in most cases, victims’ families say they are afraid of communicating their cases to the authorities. A disconcerting trend is that of women being ‘disappeared’ in certain areas, such as Dera Bugti and Awaran.”

Yet as HRCP notes “these cases tend not to be reported or recorded. HRCP’s investigation also reveals that hundreds of coal mines are being operated by people who possess neither the financial resources nor the technological skills to provide for operational safety or deal with emergencies. The mission found that security agencies impose an unofficial security charge on per ton production from coal mines, which mine owners and labour unions alike have deemed extortion. HRCP believes that the level of the Frontier Corps’ presence in Balochistan and its degree of control undermines provincial government and civilian administration. The unwarranted involvement and permanent presence of security personnel in educational institutions like Balochistan University must also end.”

Finally HRCP “strongly feels that the provincial government and civilian administration must run the affairs of the province without any undue interference. In addition, a law that criminalises enforced disappearances, punishes the perpetrators and compensates victims’ families must be enacted expeditiously.”

If Imran Khan Conquered the UN, as his fans say, why is Pakistan changing its UN ambassador?

If one is to believe the Pakistani mainstream media, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s party the PTI and its social media machinery, then Mr Khan’s recent UNGA trip was a huge success. If that were so then why is it that within 72 hours of Khan’s UNGA speech, his government has changed Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Maleeha Lodhi. On Friday soon after Khan’s UNGA speech two of his cabinet members – Fawad Chaudhry and Naeem ul Haque – tweeted praises of Amb Lodhi.

Establishment Hawk

Yet on Monday September 30, Lodhi was replaced by a former Ambassador of Pakistan to the United Nations, Munir Akram. A career foreign service officer, Akram is considered a hawk and a strong supporter of Pakistan’s military -intelligence establishment.

Akram is a prolific OpEd writer and if one glances through his Opeds in Dawn the image appears of someone who is hawkish on India, anti-US, pro-China and believes Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are its only savior.

Girlfriend Beater as ambassador hardly advances Pakistan’s case

However, for the global and American audience, Akram is better known as the “girlfriend beater” Ambassador of Pakistan to the UN who  

According to a New York Times report from 2003 titled ‘U.S. Asks Pakistan to Lift U.N. Envoy’s Immunity After a Violent Quarrel,’ “The State Department has asked Pakistan to withdraw the diplomatic immunity of its envoy here, Munir Akram, after New York City prosecutors sought to bring misdemeanor assault charges against him as a result of a quarrel with a woman, United States and New York City officials said today. Marjorie Tiven, the city commissioner in charge of United Nations issues, wrote to the United States Mission here on Dec. 26 requesting that the envoy’s immunity be removed, according to Edward Skyler, the mayor’s spokesman. Mr. Skyler said the Manhattan district attorney’s office had advised city officials that it was prepared to prosecute if Mr. Akram’s immunity was lifted. Pakistan has not yet informed the United States of any decision.”

The incident dates to “On Dec. 10 at 1:36 a.m., the New York City police were summoned by an emergency 911 call to a residence at 47 East 92nd Street in Manhattan, police officials said. Marijana Mihic, 35, told the 911 operator that a man whom she identified as her husband had smashed her head into a wall and that her arm hurt, according to the police dispatcher’s notes of the conversation. She said the man had hit her before. ”Female caller states husband has diplomatic immunity,” the dispatcher noted. When police officers arrived, Ms. Mihic said that Mr. Akram was her ”boyfriend” and that after an argument with him she had tried to leave. ”He prevented her from leaving, he grabbed her and she fell,” said Lt. Brian Burke, a police spokesman. The police officers at the scene reported that Ms. Mihic had a bruise on her head, he said. Mr. Akram, who is 57, was at the residence when the police arrived and identified himself as an ambassador.”

In the end “A spokesman for the Pakistani Mission said today that Mr. Akram and his friend had reconciled. ”The ambassador and his friend both strongly believe that there is no basis for any legal action in this matter,” said Mansoor Suhail, the spokesman. ”And they have both communicated that belief to the concerned authorities.”

As a Pakistani columnist and analyst Khurram Hussain tweeted, all did not go well during Khan’s US trip for the Ambassador to be removed with such haste!

Child Abuse in Pakistan – HRCP investigates

As the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) notes “The mark of a civilized society is the way it treats – and protects – its children.” The discovery of the bodies of four children in Kasur, Punjab, in mid-September follows several high profile cases of child abuse and murder over the last few years including the 2015 child pornography ring that targeted 300 children and 2018 rape and murder of six-year old Zainab Ansari.

As the HRCP fact-finding report states “All three bodies were found lying next to each other in a deserted sandy area near the town. Faizan’s body was recovered by locals on the information of a sand seller; the police found the remaining victims. Informants claimed that the police had sent the remains of these victims for DNA reports. On 27 September, the media reported that the police had arrested 21 suspects, but had no conclusive evidence yet with which to make any charges.”

Further, “While the police explained the measures they had taken to some extent, almost all the victims’ families felt they had received very little or no support from the administration and law enforcement agencies and held little hope that the police investigation would reveal the culprit or culprits.”

The HRCP also issued the following recommendations:

“The FIR registration process must be made easier for complainants and police sensitized to dealing with complaints relating to missing children.

Security cameras should be installed in the town.

Schools, colleges, madrassas and mosques should be used as platforms to raise awareness of child sexual abuse and to suggest measures for protecting children.

The areas where these – and similar – incidents have occurred must be searched thoroughly for any other evidence and identified by the administration so that people avoid the area at present.”