By Ali Usman Qasmi
A decade hence Raymond Davis’s indiscretion of killing Pakistani civilians ‘in self defence’ would have evoked relatively little stir. But in present day Pakistan, an overwhelming majority of the Pakistanis find his act simply outrageous. Nevertheless to say that Davis shot at the two youngsters without any provocation gives rise to a quandary regarding his motives. One does not need to be a lawyer par excellence to tell that in the case of an intentional murder one has to figure out the ‘motives’ that have led the accused to commit the murder. I read a newspaper article claiming that Davis got infuriated because the two men were filming him with their mobile phones. This they were doing, according to that article, because Davis was a gun carrying diplomat and if such exclusive footage were to be sold to any electronic channel, it would have enabled them to become dost of that channel hence door of opportunity could have opened for them to earn some livelihood. I find it quite bizzare that Pakistanis hold the Americans in high esteem when it comes to their geniuses in plotting against the Ummah and yet they attribute such stupid acts to them. Why Davis would have carried a gun in his lap while driving particularly when he was on a secret mission? In another story, which was later retracted, it was claimed that the boys were low rank intelligence personnel and they were keeping an eye of Davis’ activities. As he was on a top secret mission that day, he had no other recourse but to kill ‘those officials’ lest his mission should not be sabotaged. If this version holds any credence then Davis should be punished not by Pakistani intelligence services but by the US for his actions have compromised the whole range of US operations in Pakistan!
Setting the conspiracy theories at rest, we are left with the original story which Davis revealed to the police himself. The boys were trying to rob him and he fired at them in self defence. However the version of the police dismisses any possibility of any threat, posed to Davis’s life. The statement of the police authorities is yet to be made public and the delay is compounding the confusion particularly about the identity of the boys killed. Therefore the suspicion that the boys were not altogether innocent becomes a ‘settled fact’, their actual photographs showing them carrying guns make a strong case against them. To say that Davis could have planted a gun afterwards seems too far fetched hence not credible, suggesting as if he was well in command of the situation even after the ‘lynch mob’ had surrounded him.
A lot has been said about the diplomatic status of Davis that it is useless to add anything new or meaningful to this debate. But the question that is worth asking to Rehman Malik is with respect to the criterion on which Davis was granted a diplomatic status? It is as obvious as the light of the day that he is not a diplomat in the real sense of the word. He in fact is an ex-army man, loafing around mysteriously in the sensitive parts of Pakistan – possibly for intelligence gathering. Ironically while he is part of US security apparatus in Pakistan, he works with the immunity of a diplomat because of the status granted to him by Pakistani authorities as admitted by Rehman Malik. The fault lies with the Pakistani authorities for allowing such people to enter Pakistan under a diplomatic cover which then allows them to carry out activities which are not worthy of a diplomat. Without even slightest of the doubt one can safely regard Davis as part of US security network in Pakistan. But one must also hasten to add that the photos taken from his camera, and shown on a TV channel a few days back, fail to make a sound case against him. In many of the photos shown, Davis had simply captured the images of majjan ganwan!! If these photos had really been of ‘sensitive installations’ – say, for example, Kahuta laboratories – there is no way that any TV channel would have dared showing them for public viewing. Also, it is hard to believe that for a place like Lahore the US needs the services of a trained intelligence person to gather information on the field. The US has an incredible system of espionage in place with numerous local recruits which allows them to hunt down the terrorists in the forbidden tribal areas of Pakistan and then strike them with drone missiles. If the US has managed to make deep inroads in an area like Waziristan with the help of local agents and recruits (in addition to satellite images of the region), there is no way that they cannot obtain first-hand information about a place like Lahore through a similar network.
My interest in this whole case is simply about two points: One, there is hardly any talk about the innocent man crushed to death by the US consulate car. It is ostensibly claimed that the car was sent in as Davis was under threat of meeting a Sialkot like treatment. On what basis did Davis make such an assessment of situation? Did American Consulate consider other options (like contacting high ups in Punjab police) before embarking on such a rescue mission? No matter how grave the situation was, such heinous act had no justification whatsoever. If the life of one man Davis was important enough to be saved, so was that of Ibad-ur-Rehman who was killed for no fault of his. Have the Americans offered any words of condolence over his tragic death let alone an apology? Is it also part of the Vienna convention that a diplomat can murder a person and then be whisked away to his country of origin without any compensation to the family of deceased?
My second point of interest is in the divergently different reactions from left and right. The right wing journalists and coteries of establishment are clamouring for Davis’s head. This, they think, will restore to Pakistanis their national pride, badly bruised by repeated infringement of Pakistani national sovereignty in the form of drone attacks. Also, it will help settle score with the Americans who had illegally abducted qaum ki beti Afia Siddiqi and sentenced her to 86 years of prison on trumped up charges. I find these two cases intriguingly contrasting. Afia gives an image of a frail woman who was religiously devout and was sentenced precisely for that reason. She is a mother, an observant Muslim and, as a woman, a symbol of Pakistani pride which the jealous Pakistani Neanderthal male must protect. Her binary opposite of Davis is a sturdy, white, Christian affiliated with black water, violating Pakistani sovereign space with impunity. But in the opinion of this scribe, the charges against Davis of killing two Pakistanis for filming his activities is as unbelievable as that of Afia snatching a gun from a FBI (or was it CIA?) officer and firing at him while in custody. Last time this trick was performed in Ram Gopal Varma’s film Company in which Chandu snatched a weapon from an armed guard and fired at the home minister who had come to visit him in jail!!
Coming back to the question of diverse reactions, the so-called ‘Liberal fascists’ (I say so-called because there are hardly any Liberals left in Pakistan let alone Liberals with any power to enforce their doctrine!) have been supportive of the US case. Cowasjee, Najam Sethi and Raza Rumi have all argued for a blanket diplomatic immunity for Davis. Now that Rehman Malik himself has said that Davis was a diplomat, I do not dispute the legality of the argument with regard to his immunity. However I would make two points: One should try to understand the asymmetrical power relation inherent in the logic of respecting international law and code of conduct. When it comes to violating Pakistani air space for drone attacks, in contravention of all the canons of international law not just one convention of Vienna, the US can put this question into the spin zone of ifs and buts. But in the present case, where it stands a chance to extract benefit serving its interests, the US is bullying Pakistan to respect international law. If the US has the power to pursue its interests under a legal cover and, mostly, supra-legal, it should not take away from us the right to condemn US for all its excesses. My second disagreement with the writings of above mentioned writers is my point of agreement with what the Foreign Secretary of Pakistan has said. He has given a very sane advice. The US and its diplomat have a very strong case. Given that the anti-American emotions are running high in Pakistan, it would be in the best interest of both the countries that no further demands are made in this case. The US should fight this case in Pakistani courts. Like I said, they have a strong case both for his diplomatic immunity and the argument of self defence. By adopting such a course of action, I think, Americans will earn the respect and appreciation of many people in Pakistan.