A file photo of Taliban prisoners looking through the door of a prison after an attack in the city of Jalalabad in Afghanistan. (AP)
A file photo of Taliban prisoners looking through the door of a prison after an attack in the city of Jalalabad in Afghanistan. (AP)

Pak should be on FATF ‘black list’ for role in Afghanistan: Canadian think tank

Macdonald Laurier Institute (MLI) made the observation in a report titled “Ending Pakistan’s Proxy War in Afghanistan”. It has been authored by Chris Alexander, who was Canada’s citizenship and immigration minister from 2013-2015
By Anirudh Bhattacharyya I Edited by Nadim Siraj
PUBLISHED ON MAR 03, 2021 09:57 PM IST

In a scathing report published by an Ottawa-based think tank, a former Canadian cabinet minister has called for designating Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism and for adding it to the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) “black list” until it ends its alleged proxy war in Afghanistan.

The report, titled “Ending Pakistan’s Proxy War in Afghanistan” and published by Macdonald Laurier Institute (MLI), has been authored by Chris Alexander, who was Canada’s citizenship and immigration minister from 2013-2015 in the Conservative government of then PM Stephen Harper.

Alexander was also, from 2003-2009, the first resident Canadian ambassador to Afghanistan and deputy special representative of the UN’s secretary general for the country.

He pointed out that the peace process in Afghanistan under President Ashraf Ghani is fading out, and what is considered an “endless war” has a “single underlying cause: Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is waging a covert proxy war in Afghanistan. Pakistan’s aim is to break Afghanistan’s post-2001 constitutional order by installing a Taliban-led coalition to replace the current government, which ISI sees as a stalking horse for India”.

Underlining the ISI’s role in Afghanistan, Alexander added, “Without ISI support, the Taliban-led proxy war would end quickly.” Hibatullah Akhundzada currently heads the Afghan Taliban group.

Late last month, the Paris-based terror funding watchdog FATF retained Pakistan on its grey list till June to address remaining targets. Pakistan has been on the grey list since 2018 and the FATF has said Islamabad has complied with 24 of 27 actions it was required to make.

Alexander made 10 strategic recommendations in the report, including not just listing Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism, but also to “ensure that states enact wide-ranging sanctions against Pakistani officials” supporting extremist groups such as Taliban, al-Qaeda, Haqqani Network.

The report also calls for debating the “situation in Pakistan” at the UN Security Council to make it clear that “ISI support for the Taliban and other terrorist groups is a threat to international peace and security.

In the MLI’s report, the former Canadian minister also recommended that further talks with the Taliban be suspended pending an “unconditional ceasefire” while also suspending further US and Nato forces’ reduction till that happens and Pakistan’s covert proxy war ends.

“The ISI’s clandestine ‘Directorate S’ continues to deliver comprehensive support to these groups, marshalling additional backing as required from other branches of Pakistan’s military and civilian institutions,” Alexander noted.

Drawing a parallel to the international sanctions slapped on Russia over its role in Crimea, on Iran and increasingly on China, Alexander argued that to “achieve peace and protect the credibility of international law nearly two decades after the fall of the Taliban regime, every serious partner of Afghanistan now has a duty to enact far-reaching sanctions against those individuals and agencies in Pakistan responsible for this covert proxy war in Afghanistan”.

The report also describes the ISI as the “chief spoiler now undermining peace and stability in Afghanistan”, placing at risk gains made over the past two decades since the 9/11 terror attacks in the US.

“These achievements are now at risk,” Alexander wrote, due to what he called Pakistan’s policy of “strategic depth” to counter “perceived Indian influence”.

That proxy war, Alexander claimed, has cost “at least 124,000 lives” over the last two decades, including 2,355 US soldiers and 167 Canadian military personnel and civilians.

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