Islamabad: In view of its growing international isolation and the administration of President Donald Trump freezing most of the United States' financial aid to Pakistan, the Asian nation appears to be in a fix over what to do and how to deal with the situation.
An article published in the country's leading daily Dawn claimed that ''Pakistan appears to be making an effort of main-streaming various organisations like Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and its charity wing Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation politically in the hope of reining in their militant activities.
"Faced with the conundrum of how to accommodate this large body of militants, especially given the official policy of cracking down against extremism in all its manifestations, the state - or certain elements of it - has adopted the path of main-streaming them," the Dawn editorial said.
The article, however, said that it appears to be a difficult task for the government in Pakistan to rein in and prosecute a popular figure like Hafiz Saeed, who is a UN-designated 'Global Terrorist'.
"The government's inability to build a prosecutable case against JuD chief Hafiz Saeed, and its unsuccessful attempts to have his detention extended, has made the task more difficult," the editorial said.
Clearly, the United States' announcement of aid cut has left Pakistan red-faced with several of its top figures accusing the Donald Trump administration of acting on India's behest.
Under global pressure to act firmly against extremists and their outfits if it does not want aid to be stopped, the Pakistan government has initiated action through the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), wherein, the corporate sector regulator has prohibited registered companies from donating cash to entities and individuals included in the consolidated list issued by the UN Security Council's sanctions committee.
The government has already prescribed a penalty of up to Rs10 million for those violating the sanctions regime. The SECP's latest measure is reportedly specific to the FIF, which like the JuD, is listed as an affiliate of the banned Lashkar-e-Toiba.
The Dawn editorial also cited several examples, including the decommissioning of the Irish Republican Army, to prove how global militant outfits have down arms and even evolved into political entities.
The editorial claimed that for the sake of credibility, it is essential the Government of Pakistan acts against such groups and their leaders abjure violence, as the IRA did.
Pakistan needs to convince the international community the FIF's charitable activities do not mask a more sinister agenda. So far, Pakistan has not been able to ensure that this criterion has been met, the editorial asserted.
The JuD predictably has accused the government of surrendering to Western powers. There were reports in the Pakistani media claiming that Hafiz Saeed has decided to register a political party in Pakistan. Reportedly, the party is being registered under the name of Mlli Muslim League Pakistan. Several Pakistani experts have expressed concerns that political main-streaming of JuD will have dangerous consequences for the country.
The editorial concluded by saying that the "government should not allow JuD to obfuscate the matter; instead, it must clearly explain why it has taken this step and what has necessitated this action now. Measures against militancy may coincide with Western expectations, but they are ultimately in Pakistan's own interest."
The article comes at a time when the United Sates suspended more than USD 1.15 billion security assistance to Pakistan, accusing Islamabad of harbouring terror groups like the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network within its border and showing unwillingness to take "decisive actions" against them.
It comes days after President Donald Trump in a New Year tweet accused Pakistan of giving back nothing to the US but "lies and deceit" and providing a "safe haven" to terrorists in return for USD 33 billion aid over the last 15 years.
Prominent among the suspended amount include USD 255 million in Foreign Military Funding (FMF) for the fiscal year 2016 as mandated by the Congress.
In addition, the Department of Defense suspended the entire USD 900 million of the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) money to Pakistan for the fiscal year 2017.
"Today we can confirm that we are suspending national security assistance only, to Pakistan at this time until the Pakistani government takes decisive action against groups, including the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network. We consider them to be destabilising the region and also targeting US personnel. The US will suspend that kind of security assistance to Pakistan," State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a press briefing in Washington.
The US, she said, will not be delivering military equipment or transfer security-related funds to Pakistan unless it is required by law.
Referring to the new South Asia Policy announced by Trump in August, Nauert said despite a sustained high-level engagement by this administration with the government of Pakistan, the Taliban and the Haqqani Network continue to find sanctuary inside Pakistan as they plot to destabilise Afghanistan and also attack the US and allied personnel.
(With Agency Inputs)