Pakistan's former ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, has said that Prime Minister Imran Khan's recent statement promising end of support to militant Jihadi groups is motivated by the fear of blacklisting by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and does not reflect a change of policy.
Speaking at a conference at Georgetown University, he observed that so far there is no evidence that the Khan government or Pakistan's all-powerful military are dismantling Pakistan's terrorist support infrastructure.
"There is little change in Pakistan's attitude towards militancy, particularly the one directed against Afghanistan and India," Haqqani said, pointing out that Pakistan failed to initiate any action against Jaish-e-Mohammed or its leader, Masood Azhar, after the Pulwama terrorist attack in Jammu and Kashmir.
According to Haqqani, "Islamabad's close ties with Beijing were invoked to ensure that Azhar's designation as a terrorist by the United Nations was blocked by China at Pakistan's behest." Such moves are consistent with Islamabad's policies of the last 30 years, he said.
Haqqani, the author of several books, is currently Director for South and Central Asia at the Hudson Institute think tank and is considered an outspoken critic of the Pakistan military's domestic and foreign policies, especially its support of Jihadi terrorism.
"Although FATF sanctions are not imminent," Haqqani said, "Pakistan is trying to thwart them with public relations moves such as Imran Khan's latest statement. There will be more PR moves as FATF pressures increase."
The former ambassador said that the desire to reassure the world, once again, that Pakistan wants to act against terrorist groups is motivated by economic considerations. "Pakistan's economy is not doing too well,' he noted, adding that "FATF sanctions would only make Khan's only economic option - more borrowing and financial bailouts by other countries and IMF-- more difficult."
Husain Haqqani stressed that "Pakistan's support for militancy is a strategic choice, motivated by the desire to provide a force multiplier for a relatively poor country trying to act as a major regional power without resources comparable to its perceived rival.
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