After slamming Pakistan repeatedly for being a haven for terrorists, the United States now has criticised Islamabad for its fiscal transparency, especially with regard to its intelligence agencies that are notorious for harbouring terrorists.
The US Department of State has released its fiscal transparency report for 2017. The report, which is an annual feature, reviews those countries that receive financial assistance from the US in order to see that the US taxpayers’ money is being utilised properly.
The report, this year as well, placed Pakistan in the category of countries that did not meet the minimum requirements of fiscal transparency. And as has been the case in the past, this year too, the report found that Pakistan did not make any significant progress in this direction.
The report said though the documents on financial activities were widely available in public domain, the Pakistani government did not make audit reports available publicly within a reasonable period of time. The report said that Pakistan needed to correct this.
Moreover, the report found that “the budget of the intelligence agencies was not publicly available. The report also found that “this budget was not subject to adequate parliamentary or other civilian oversight” and recommended that it be.
WHAT PREVIOUS FISCAL TRANSPARENCY REPORTS SAID
The 2016 and 2015 fiscal transparency reports make similar observations about Pakistan, unlike 2014 when the United States had found Pakistan fulfilling the fiscal transparency requirements.
The US State Department has been publishing annual fiscal transparency reports since 2012. The 2014 report identified “minimum requirements of fiscal transparency for each government receiving assistance” in accordance with the US laws which require the US Secretary of State and his office to “update and strengthen” them regularly.
And Pakistan, a terror sponsor state, found itself in the negative list from next year onwards, i.e., 2015 onwards. The US, which has been a major aid provider to Pakistan, and in fact has given aid over $15 billion, including military assistance to the country since 2011, has started toughening its stand after realising Pakistan’s double standards in its approach towards terrorism.
Pakistan claims to be a US ally in the war against terror and shamelessly takes US grants in that name. Yet it shelters anti-US terror groups like the Haqqani Network and the Taliban that routinely attack Washington’s interests in Afghanistan. The US has been blocking since last year a part of the military assistance to Pakistan to crack down on the Haqqani Network after it found that Pakistan failed to keep its part of the bargain.
PAKISTAN’s DOUBLESPEAK ON TERROR EXPOSED
Pakistan’s double-dealings, in fact, have left the US and its President Donald Trump miffed. While unveiling his South Asia Policy Review in July, Trump had warned Pakistan that “the US would no longer be silent about Pakistan’s double-dealings and demanded that Pakistan’s attitude of doublespeak had to change immediately.”
Things for Pakistan started taking a bad turn after Donald Trump was elected the United States President, who it seems, now firmly believes that Pakistan is not using the US taxpayers’ money appropriately, in accordance with the US laws.
It only added to Pakistan’s troubles that Trump had been a vocal critic of Pakistan since his campaign days who used to describe Pakistan with terms like ‘Pakistan is not our friend’ and “when it will apologise for providing a safe sanctuary to Osama Bin Laden.”
As the US was preparing to transition to Trump’s Presidency, it clearly told Pakistan to act against Hafiz Saeed and Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) after the outfit’s name prominently figured in the report of the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering.
The US warned that if Pakistan failed to comply to this, it would be put on the list of blacklisted countries in the International Cooperative Review Group (ICRG). That would have made it necessary for Pakistan to put a formal request each time it went about transacting any business through any of the international financial institutions. Left with no other option, Pakistan had to place Saeed, a designated terrorist with a US bounty of $10 million over his head since 2012, under house arrest.