Islamabad: Recent Financial Action Task Force (FATF) waiver to Pakistan came as a massive relief for Islamabad, however, the global money laundering and terrorism financing watchdog should continue to keep its pressure on the country as it just uses symbolic actions to curb terror financing, reported South-South Research Initiative (SSRI).

It has been 14 years since Pakistan-sponsored terrorists struck Mumbai. The evidence of Pakistan's links behind the bloodbath that went on for three days in Mumbai was there for all to see. However, Pakistan chose to ignore India's requests to bring the perpetrators of the act to justice over the past 14 years.

Moreover, it got away with the international endorsement that it has been doing enough to counter-terrorism. In this context, it is apt to analyse the recent FATF waiver to Pakistan, reported SSRI.

Pakistan had to undergo a long scrutiny process to get itself off the list. The country was added to the "grey list" in the FATF's plenary meeting in Paris in June 2018.

This was the third time Pakistan's name was added to the list. Earlier Pakistan was on the FATF's grey list during 2008-2010 and 2012-2015 and had its name removed from the list in February 2015.

In its latest decision to remove Pakistan from the list, the statement by the FATF President Raja Kumar read, "It has two concurrent action plans. After a lot of work by Pakistani authorities, they have largely addressed all of the action plans laid down therein."

Islamabad may not accept that it is systemically supporting, but it uses the loopholes in the system to support terrorists who not only engage in terrorism within Pakistan but also expands their terror activities in other countries, such as India, as the glaring case being the Mumbai attacks in 2008, Pathankot and Uri attacks in 2016 and Pulwama in 2019, reported SSRI.

No concerted action had ever been taken against those who were involved in and financed the terror attacks in Mumbai, such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), leaders like Hafiz Saeed, Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and Sajid Mir.

This was first accepted by the government of Pakistan in February 2009, saying that Mumbai attacks were planned on its soil saying that "some part of the conspiracy has taken place in Pakistan" and six people were arrested in that regard, including Lakhvi.

However, Lakvhi was allowed bail in December 2014. The bail was granted because, according to the lawyer, the "evidence against Lakhvi was insufficient," reported SSRI.

Lakhvi became a free man until he was again arrested in January 2021, only when Pakistan was pressurized by the FATF to act against terror financing.

After several years; and after being constantly pursued by the FATF, it was proven that he was involved in terror financing. "He, with some others engaged in collecting funds and utilised them to nurture terror financing" read the Punjab Counter Terrorism Department's (CTD) statement.

In the case of the head of the LeT Hafiz Saeed, no action was taken, maybe because of the support Hafiz had received in the country.

After being accused of his involvement in the Mumbai terror attacks, Hafiz organised a rally in Islamabad in September 2013, using provocative language against India even when the US, had already announced an offer of USD 10 million for information about Hafiz.

The first action Pakistan took against Hafiz, was only in 2017, following a crackdown was launched against Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), a namesake of LeT. Hafiz Saeed was kept under house arrest, according to as DG ISPR as "a policy decision," which was in the "national interest" of Pakistan, reported SSRI.

Despite the arrest, there was hardly any action against him. Subsequently, Hafiz was freed from the house arrest, when a court rejected a plea by the government for extension of the arrest.

Whatever the reasons given for his immediate release, the long-term reasons appeared to be ineptitude of the state mechanism to hold such people accountable for their actions. Or else, it was complicity shown from the system, reported SSRI.

If that was not the case, then why was Hafiz Saeed again arrested, soon after Pakistan was added in the FATF list? This time even evidence was found.

In July 2019, the Punjab Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) did not only book Hafiz, but 13 of the JuD activists "for terror financing and money laundering".

This time, being under pressure from the FATF to strengthen its laws against terror financing and money laundering, action was taken against Hafiz and others. An anti-terrorism court sentenced Hafiz Saeed of 33 years of cumulative imprisonment on April 9, 2022.

Some say that the decision was taken because Pakistan was not able to convince the FATF that it was working on the conditions laid down by the international body. When it was reeling under pressure or otherwise, the case of Hafiz, in which he was arrested earlier and released soon had sufficient proof that there is something abnormal in the system.

The hush-hush case of Sajid Majeed Mir tells more about the way such cases are being dealt with in Pakistan. Sajid was not arrested despite him being accused of directing the Mumbai Attacks, but finally he was taken in 2022 and that was also secretly. He was sentenced only in May 2022, even that was not made public.

Therefore, it would be apt if the FATF continues to keep its pressure on Pakistan, knowing fully well here is the case of a nation, which is determined to continue with its romance with terror and use terrorism as an instrument of its policy vis-à-vis the wider world, reported SSRI.