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Since the Indian government is pushing this agenda through diplomatic channels, it is hard to imagine how the co-chair of the ICRG, who in this case holds a controversial position, will follow a line other than the one adopted by his government. The individual in question is a commissioner in the Enforcement Directorate of the Department of Revenue in India’s finance ministry, and as a mid-level bureaucrat it is unlikely that he will be able to exercise independent judgement in the case of Pakistan. In any case, regardless of how he discharges his duties, the final outcome will necessarily suffer from a credibility deficit on account of his presence as co-chair, and give more fuel to those who are arguing that the entire exercise is an extension of regional geopolitics.
It is highly advisable for FATF to consider the request made by Mr Umar. This should be done with an eye to protecting the watchdog’s self-professed mission as an independent, technocratic body that stands above politics. Many member countries of FATF have genuine concerns about the alleged presence of jihadi groups in Pakistan, but their own credibility is at stake when pressing these concerns upon the authorities in Islamabad. Surely another individual can be found to serve in the co-chair’s position in the case of Pakistan, preferably from a state that does not made it known that it has an axe to grind with the country under review.
Published in Dawn, March 14th, 2019