Is it a coincidence that US  Budgetary suggestion of USD 336 million as civil and military aid to Pakistan has prompted it to declare its strategic assets as terrorist? Certainly yes.

Pakistan’s President on Monday signed an ordinance that brings all individuals and organisations banned by the UN Security Council (UNSC) – including 26/11 attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed and his group, the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) – under the ambit of the country’s stringent Anti-Terrorism Act. This means that now, under Pakistani law, Saeed is a terrorist, and the JuD is a terrorist organisation.

Pakistani National Counter-Terrorism Authority (NACTA) now can act against newly declared terrorist organisations after the signing of the ordinance – which amends a section of the Anti-Terrorism Act. The move enables Islamabad to take action against groups and individuals banned by the UNSC – that includes sealing their offices and freezing their bank accounts. NACTA’s counter-terror financing wing will now work with concerned authorities and recommend possible courses of action.

Strangely enough president Trump also unveiled a budget at around same time by proposing USD 336 million aid to Pakistan. The budget requests include USD 256 million for Pakistan in economic and other assistance to help increase stability, promote economic growth and create opportunities for US businesses and USD 80 million in Foreign Military Financing assistance to enhance Pakistan’s counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency capabilities, contingent on Pakistan taking appropriate action to expand cooperation in areas where US-Pakistan interests converge and to address areas of divergence, in line with the administration’s South Asia strategy.

This new ploy by Pakistan will also help it in countering any adverse implications of Anti Terror Financing Conference being held in Paris shortly. However, it remains to be seen that whether this time Pakistan puts Hafiz Saeed in prison or under house arrest. What happens to Masood Azhar? The action by NACTA post signing of the ordinance will give an indication about the seriousness of Pakistan’s intentions of combating terrorism.

13 Feb 2018/Tuesday