Amid international worries over the condition of human rights in various regions of Pakistan, Islamabad on Tuesday attempted to debunk India's claims of having destroyed three terror camps on the Pakistani side across the Line of Control (LoC). Pakistan gave foreign diplomats a tour of the areas India claimed to have targetted, to ascertain whether there was damage done to terrorists or "civilians".
Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat said on Sunday that six to 10 Pakistan Army personnel were killed and three terror camps destroyed in retaliatory action by the Indian Army opposite the Tangdhar and Keran sectors in Jammu and Kashmir. Rawat also said that another terror camp was severely damaged in the action by the Indian forces and the retaliation had caused substantial harm to the terror infrastructure across the LoC.
However, the Pakistan military rejected the claim and said that India is welcome to take any foreign diplomat or media to the site of alleged terror camps to "prove" its claim on the ground.
On Tuesday, Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal said that diplomats from various foreign missions in Islamabad were visiting Jura and Shahkot sectors. "The Indian side has not joined us in the visit to the LoC neither have they provided coordinates of the alleged ‘launch pads'," Faisal tweeted. He added that "claims by the Indian Army chief remain just that: ‘Claims'."
Reportedly, Faisal also accompanied the diplomatic corps to the LoC. The numbers and nationalities of the foreign diplomats visiting the LoC were not specified.
Director General (DG) of Pakistan Army's media wing Major-General Asif Ghafoor said, "What good Indian High Commission is which can't stand with its Army Chief? Indian High Commission staff didn't have the moral courage to accompany fellow diplomats in Pakistan to the LoC."
"It is a challenge by Pakistan to India that the way diplomats and media visited the places, India should arrange a similar one-day visit to Kashmir and on their side of the LoC," Ghafoor told media. Briefing the diplomats and the media, he claimed that 58 civilians were killed and 319 injured in 3,038 Indian ceasefire violations in 2018.
"So far in 2019, there have been 2,608 ceasefire violations which have killed 44 civilians and injured 230 others," Ghafoor said.
Pakistan's track record?
While accusations and counter-accusations of ceasefire violations are frequently traded across the border from both sides, Pakistan's effort to disprove India's claim of destroying terror camps in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir is telling of its desperation to correct its image as a terror-funding State amid the threat of being blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
On 18 October, the global watchdog put Pakistan on notice and warned that it will be blacklisted if it does not control terror funding by February 2020, voicing serious concern over that country's failure to deliver on most of its 27 targets. The Paris-based FATF gave the warning to Pakistan at its five-day plenary while deciding to again put the country on the 'Grey List'.
It is crucial for Pakistan to appease the FATF because blacklisting would cast a "severe blow to its already weak economy". Since Pakistan continues to be in the FATF 'Grey List', it would be very difficult for the country to get financial aid from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, ADB, and the European Union. There is also the risk of reduction in rating by Moody's, S&P and Fitch, making Pakistan's financial condition more precarious, PTI reported.
According to a FATF statement, the FATF plenary noted that Pakistan addressed only five out of the 27 tasks given to it in controlling funding to terror groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Hizbul Mujahideen, responsible for a series of attacks in India.
"To avoid blacklisting, Islamabad needed to demonstrate it had taken action on illegal money and cash couriers, that successful prosecutions were happening, and that terrorist fundraising was being restricted," Financial Times reported.
By making this decision on Pakistan public, the FATF has given notice to the global financial institutions that they need to prepare themselves to red flag the jurisdiction and ready their systems in February 2020 if the country falters in meeting the targets.
"It was again decided by consensus that FATF would retain Pakistan on the Grey List and warn Pakistan that if it did not complete its full Action Plan and show significant and sustainable progress action will be taken," said an official privy to the development said.
Interestingly, FATF President Xiangmin Liu, who is from China — Pakistan's "all-weather friend"— also referred to Islamabad's "deficiencies in its anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism system".
Condition of human rights in Pakistan
Additionally, a US-based Pakistani-American human rights expert on Wednesday also voiced concerns over the country's human rights record. Religious persecution remains a silent feature of Pakistan where minority communities like Hindus, Christians, and Ahmedias are helpless victims at the hands of religious extremists who operate with the government's impunity, Fatima Gul told US lawmakers.
"Since 1990, 70 people have been killed for blasphemy and 40 people are currently serving life sentences and on death row. Religious persecution remains a silent feature of Pakistan. Hindus, Christians, Ahmedias, ... and Hazara are helpless victims at the hands of religious extremists who operate with the government impunity,” Gul told the Congressional subcommittee.
"Pakistan is primarily run by Pakistani Army and Islamic extremists' groups. The vast majority of Pakistani citizens experience oppression, violence, and religious and political persecution by government authorities and their supporters daily,” she said.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Oct 23, 2019 16:40:52 IST