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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 10/24/20

What is behind rumors about bitter Pakistan-Saudi Arabia relations?

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Message Abdus-Sattar Ghazali
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Pakistan Foreign Office Thursday denied a social media report on Saudi Arabia's role in the assessment of Pakistan's Financial Action Task Force (FATF) action plan.

"Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoy strong fraternal ties and the two countries have always cooperated with each other on all matters of bilateral, regional and international importance," said the FO spokesperson.

"Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoy strong fraternal ties and the two countries have always cooperated with each other on all matters of bilateral, regional and international importance," said the statement by the spokesperson.

A renowned journalist, Sabir Shakir, has reported that Saudi Arabia has voted against Pakistan in the virtual plenary of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). He also asserted that Saudi Arabia lobbied to woo the support of other Muslim countries including Turkey to move Pakistan into the blacklist of the global financial watchdog.

Historically, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoy close friendship relations, however recent developments give some credence to Mr. Sabir Shakir's story.

However, before devolving into the souring Pakistan-Saudi relations, I would like to explain what FATF is and what it's objective is.

Nominally FATF is an international instrument to track Money Laundering, however mainly it is used to track the so-called Terrorism Financing. Of course we don't know what is terrorism? since there is no globally accepted definition.

There are over 109 different definitions of terrorism, according to Arie W. Kruglanski and Shira Fishman, authors of Terrorism Between ''Syndrome''and ''Tool'. ' Bruce Hoffman, an American scholar, has noted that it is not only individual agencies within the same governmental apparatus that cannot agree on a single definition of terrorism. Experts and other long-established scholars in the field are equally incapable of reaching a consensus. C. A. J. Coady has written that the question of how to define terrorism is "irresolvable" because "it's natural home is in polemical, ideological and propagandist contexts."

Hence, the FATF is another western instrument to put pressure on those countries which resist their predatory policies.

Is this a financial or a political issue?

If the commentary by international news media is any indicator, Pakistan's placement on FATF's grey list is far more political than financial in nature. It is being seen as one of the several ways the US is attempting to pressure Pakistan to "do more" on issues related to 'terrorism,' according to daily Dawn.

The long-winded, jargon-filled recommendations and methodology used by FATF leave plenty of flexibility for the team of assessors to exercise their "informed judgment". That is, based on the same information, assessors could reach more than one judgment, including the one sought by the politically powerful.

US is also a major financier of FATF and the current president of FATF is an Assistant Secretary from the US Department of the Treasury who heads the Office of Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes.

If US can have Pakistan placed on the grey list, it may also make it difficult for Pakistan to exit the list. Bottom line is that FATF's grey listing of Pakistan should not be looked at in isolation but placed in the larger picture of US-Pakistan relations that have had many ups and downs, Dawn concluded.

Pakistan-Saudi Relations

Now let us discuss the drifting relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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