The transforming relationship between the US and Pakistan over the past month despite Islamabad still falling short of not meeting anti-terrorism actionable goals set by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF), is a disturbing development, a former Indian diplomat said on Thursday.
"There are visible signs that the relationship between the US and Pakistan is transforming. Look at the kind of developments taking place over the last few weeks to a month. US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Alice Wells, is in Islamabad applauding the progress made by the latter in complying with the FATF action plan", India's former envoy to Uzbekistan and Turkey M.K. Bhadrakumar elaborated.
"This is very disturbing. Those in charge of Indian foreign policy, diplomats, etc., need to express their concerns over this development with Washington seriously. Pakistan continues to fall short in giving answers to the 150 questions put to it by the FATF last year. If the US greenlights the FATF to ease off, it means Washington is letting Islamabad off the hook, which would be hurtful to India," Ambassador Bhadrakumar further stated.
The former Indian diplomat was referring to a statement issued by Pakistan's Interior Ministry earlier this week, saying its officials had briefed Wells and the US delegation about the "significant progress" Islamabad had made on "legislative and administrative matters" to ensure compliance with the action plan outlined for Pakistan by the FATF, and Wells applauding "the progress".
"The US and India's perceptions about terrorism and its attendant problems are different. We (India and its foreign policy establishment) need to do much more to highlight Pakistan's state sponsorship of terror and encouraging terror outfits to attack India from its soil," Bhadrakumar said.
Another incident that should ring alarm bells in New Delhi was the US Department of Justice confirming the indictment of five Pakistan-origin males, currently based in Canada, the United Kingdom and Hong Kong, this month, for their involvement in allegedly acquiring American-origin nuclear technologies and goods and supplying them to the Advanced Engineering Research Organisation (AERO) and the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) through a Rawalpindi-based front company, he said.
Ambassador Bhadrakumar maintained that the closer relationship between Washington and Islamabad is connected to developments in war-ravaged Afghanistan, where the desperate US and its President Donald Trump are looking towards Pakistan to help get American soldiers deployed there, out of the region.
He also said that after the Trump Administration announced the resumption of International Military Education and Training (IMET) programmes for young Pakistani army officers, and expressed its desire to enhance bilateral economic and commercial cooperation with Islamabad, Washington and New Delhi would need to reassess and possibly rework their strategic ties.
Pakistan is expecting that the FATF may grant it another postponement, probably until June 2020. The FATF had in its October 2019 plenary meeting kept Pakistan on its grey list for an extended period until February 2020.
It had warned Islamabad that it faced being put on the blacklist along with Iran and North Korea if it did not comply with action points related to anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing identified by the FATF.
Islamabad has repeatedly been accused by India and other FATF member countries of not taking action against UN-designated terrorists. These member nations have also said that Pakistan's anti-terror law is still out of sync with globally accepted standards.