Liza Curtis visit

The ruptures in the Pak-US relations appear to be widening instead of mending despite the interactions between the two countries at different levels. The interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal recently visited the United States and held discussions with Deputy Secretary of State Jhon Sullivan on improving bilateral relations. He also met with US Senators and members of House of Representatives in bid to ally the reservation of President Donald Trump administration about Pakistan’s policy against global terrorism. But four days after the Interior Minister visit the United States moved a resolution to the intergovernmental body Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to put its all time ally in war on terror back on money laundering and terrorists financing watch-list.

Just after United States successfully managed to win the support of FATF to place Pakistan back on the grey list, Liza Curtis, Senior Director for South Asia and Central Asia at the National Security Council of US came to Islamabad and held talks with the Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua. The visit remained low key as the foreign office spokesperson simply issued a tweet saying that the US dignitary met the Foreign Secretary. The Tweet indicates that the two sides may have not discussed bilateral matters. However, the Foreign Secretary may have raised the FATF issue and insisted that US move was unjust.

Notwithstanding the US clout in the World Bank (WB) International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Asian Development Bank (ADB) the attitude of PML-N government and its leadership is non-serious and detrimental to national interest. They have shut their eyes that Pakistan and the United States have been allies and they cannot be mutually exclusive in the resolution of Afghan conflict on which the peace and stability of the region hinges. The PML-N leadership still did not realize the gravity of threat of terrorism even after Pakistan has lost 70000 lives and incurred $ 100 billion plus financial losses. The Minister of State for finance Rana Muhammad Afzal said that Pakistan has not received a list of actionable items from FATF. There is no need of such list and he should read the points numbers 3,6,10 and 20 0f the National Action Plan (NAP) and decide for himself how far the present government has implemented these important points of NAP in letter and spirit. The national narrative ‘Paigham-e-Pakistan’ was announced with a lot of fanfare but it is not being implemented.

A very strange reaction to FATF decision came from the De facto finance Minster Miftah Ismael. He brushed off concerns that economic growth will suffer because of the country’s re-induction on a terror financing watch-list and described it US attempt to embarrass Pakistan. This is a twisted logic and is tantamount to turning blind eye to very grim ground realities. The PML-N government came to power in June 2013. At that time total amount of foreign debt was $ 45 billion. The country faced the problems of slow growth and declining reserves. Although Pakistan was on the grey list of terror financing but because of the US Democratic Party administration goodwill and support for strengthening democracy it got IMF bail out package of $ 6.6 billion. This time foreign debt has reached to alarming level of $ 90 billion, current account deficit is more than $12 billion and if IMF refuses a bailout package for the payment of external obligations and debt liabilities and budgetary support the economic situation will become very precarious. The often trumpeted high interest bearing source of CPEC related loans are not a beneficial alternative of the very soft loans and project assistances received from IMF, World Bank and Asian Development Bank. The tone and tenor of the statements of federal ministers imply that the incumbent government is not even least interested to restore the soft image of the country and convince the international community about Pakistan’s commitment to buttress international efforts to eradicate the menace of terrorism.