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Stuck with Lists

Pakistan needs to make a to-do list of its own to come off FATF’s grey list to the UK’s red list.

The decision of the UK to keep Pakistan in ‘red list’ while moving India, Qatar, UAE, and Bahrain to amber left Pakistani diaspora in the UK fuming.

This was despite Pakistan having a lower seven day rolling average than many countries included in the amber list. For instance, India’s seven day rolling average of positivity rate is 20 per 100,000 and rising as compared to Pakistan’s 14 per 100,000 and rising.

The government has not shared the reasons to move some countries to the amber list, especially India as it is the source and hotspot of the delta variant, which has become the dominant variant in the UK, and keeping countries like Pakistan in the red list.

Unless the government shared the data and reasons for such a move, the decision is subject to speculation and open to all kinds of interpretations.

Looking at the recent history when Pakistan was put on the red list ahead of India despite having much lower rate of infections raised questions and eyebrows. Many commentators and analysts had dubbed that decision as political and not scientific. The recent decision apparently reinforces that perception, and it is being interpreted in the same light.

This decision is a cause for concern for both Pakistan and the Pakistani diaspora living in the UK. The decision reflects the diplomatic, economic, and political weight of the state of Pakistan as compared to other nations in general and to its neighbors. This is also evident from the wish lists handed to Pakistan by FATF for it to come off its grey list. Despite Pakistan’s exceptional achievements in meeting the tough- est demands of FATF, Pakistan was asked to do more. As the recent history of last few decades suggests there is always a ‘to do more’ list ready for Pakistan.

This has exhausted Pakistan, and it has forgotten about the real feel of freedom of action and policy. No matter how much we malign others for this ongoing predicament, the real responsibilities rest with Pakistan. It is the fruit of corruption, mismanage- ment, flawed and weak leadership, hotch- potch policies and lack of clear understand- ing of the direction the nation must take.

To fix that problem, Pakistan needs to put its house in order and pursue such policies that result in economic growth as well as resulting political and diplomatic clout. This is not easy and cannot be achieved quickly.

Given the below par political leadership largely tainted with corruption, weak and dysfunctional institutional set up, and lack of absorption capacity; this make any progress a wishful thinking.

What Pakistan needs is strong political will and for all the stakeholders in Pakistan undertake an urgent course correction. This and this alone can provide a solid founda- tion on which to build Pakistan’s influence in the international sphere. Unless that happens there is no use making hue and cry on such decisions.

The red list decision reflects on the failure of diplomacy as well. The foreign missions need to be very proactive in understanding the internal dynamics of the countries they are based in and act accordingly to trywarding off adverse decisions and policies. They can also use the resources at hand in many countries in the shape of overseas Pakistanis, a resource most of the countries don’t have the luxury to possess.

This decision also reflects badly on the political weight of Pakistani diaspora in the UK. This kind of decisions would have never been taken in such a way if the Pakistani community has an effective say and political weight in the UK.

This is despite several members of Parlia- ment hail from the Pakistani community, and they are questioning the decisions along with their colleagues but to no avail. This decision may or may not change but the fact remains that the Pakistani commu- nity has least input in the political decision making.

The international response on Kashmir issue is also symptomatic of the same problem as both Pakistan and Pakistani diaspora have not been able to generate enough international pressure to stop Indian atrocities on the innocent Kashmiris.

This is a cause of concern as it bears directly and indirectly on the wellbeing of British Pakistanis in the future. It is about time Pakistanis woke up to the dire situation it is facing: They lack effective political and social clout.

This is not to diminish the efforts of some excellent parliamentarians. However, more needs to be done in the political sphere by

enhancing the quality of performance in the parliament and making people aware of the fast changing political and societal scene and inherent problems and opportunities in the emerging situation.

Much smaller minorities have much more influence and bigger say in the affairs of society. They need to work out the reasons for such a situation. If they can’t work it out themselves, what they can do is at the very least follow the example of their Indian counterparts who invested heavily in their children’s education.

They are now reaping the rewards of this course of action, their children occupying important positions of influence in various fields of life, and climbing the social ladder on the back of their social and economic success. They are emerging as middle and upper middle class in the UK.

In comparison, the situation of Pakistani diaspora is dismal. Most of them live around the poverty line with no or least emphasis on their children’s education. This needs to change if they want respect and say in the society. One of the reasons for such a poor state of the affairs is lack of effective political and social leadership who understand the problems and opportunities and act as a role model. The only reason for optimism here is that Pakistanis are a very resilient people and once they realise the problem, they always rise to the occasion and set things right.

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