Pakistan Enforces UN Sanctions on Taliban to Push Its Economic and Geopolitical Interests

Pakistan imposed UN sanctions against Afghanistans Taliban on Aug. 22 and experts said Pakistan did this to get off the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), as well as to advance its geopolitical interests in the region.

“Pakistans move is likely driven by pressure from the Financial Action Task Force, a global terror finance watchdog, to cut back on its ties to terror groups and their financing networks,” Michael Kugelman, Deputy Director of the Asia Program at the Washington DC-based Wilson Center told The Epoch Times in an email.

Pakistans foreign ministry in a statement late on Saturday said the sanctions are not new but rather are laid out in 2015 U.N. regulations. The orders, which were issued on Tuesday, enforce U.N. regulations and are issued routinely, the statement said. A similar order was issued in 2019.

The U.N.-imposed penalties target dozens of individuals including Taliban chief peace negotiator Abdul Ghani Baradar and several members of the Haqqani family, including Sirajuddin, the current head of the Haqqani network and deputy head of the Taliban.

“Pakistan is at risk of being blacklisted by FATF if it doesnt comply, and that risk-while remote-is significant because it would have traumatic economic consequences for a country already struggling to overcome an economic crisis,” said Kugelman.

Tom Hussain, an Islamabad-based Pakistan Affairs Analyst told The Epoch Times in a written message that by imposing sanctions Pakistan is showing it wants peace in Afghanistan.

“To maintain its influence in Afghanistan, Pakistan knows it must be seen by the international community as an important part of a political solution to the conflict in Afghanistan, not a spoiler,” said Hussain adding that this indicates that the priorities of the Pakistani state, particularly its “powerful military” have changed.

“Its strategic depth ambitions of the 1990s have been replaced by a desire to make Pakistan the major economic connectivity hub for Afghanistan and beyond,” said Hussain.

Jailed Taliban
Jailed Taliban
Jailed Taliban are seen during an interview with The Associated Press inside the Pul-e-Charkhi jail in Kabul, Afghanistan on Dec. 14, 2019. (Rahmat Gul/AP Photo)

Afghanistan Peace Process

The timing of Pakistans decision to issue the orders again could be seen as a move to pressure the Taliban into a quick start to intra-Afghan negotiations, the next step in a peace deal signed in late February.

“Pakistan has been keen on ensuring the success of the Afghan peace process, where the Taliban get a share in the power,” said Adnan Aamir, an independent journalist based in Pakistan who writes on belt and road project.

Meanwhile, Taliban political spokesman Suhail Shaheen said Saturday the financial sanctions have been in place for some time. But he said any tightening of a ban on travel could hurt peace negotiations. While the first round will be held in Doha, Qatar, subsequent talks will be held elsewhere. Several countries, including Germany, have offered to host.

“It will hamper the peace process if there is a travel ban on all members,” Shaheen said in an interview. “There is a need for a relaxation of such curbs and embargoes because we are entering into another phase of (finding a ) peaceful solution of the Afghan issue.”

Kugelman said that there is some irony in the emerging situation as the world is supporting Pakistans engagement with the Taliban to help with the Afghanistan peace process.

“In effect, there is pressure on Islamabad to rein in the very engagement with militants that is helping move toward a peace process in Afghanistan. And in fact, soon after the sanctions-which include travel ban-were announced, Islamabad welcomed a delegation of Taliban representatives for meetings,” said Kugelman.

“Still, for Islamabad, the goal is to project itself as a country that is moving expeditiously to distance itself from terror groups on the whole, and these sanctions are meant to convey that impression,” he added.

Priyajit Debsarkar, the author of the book “The Last Raja Of West Pakistan & The Atlantique Attack & Arbitration” told The Epoch Times in an email that Pakistans sanctioning Taliban is “cosmetic maneuvering” because other terrorist organizations like Lashkar E Tayaba and Jaish E Mohammad continue to thrive unabated despite being banned.

Afghan Taliban militants and villagers attend a gathering as they celebrate the peace deal and their victory in the Afghan conflict with the United States in Afghanistan, in Alingar District of Laghman Province on March 2, 2020. (Noorullah Shirzada /AFP via Getty Images)

Pakistans Interests in Afghanistan

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