US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has phoned Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani to discuss different issues, including the matter of ‘US consular employee’ Raymond Davis.
Davis had allegedly shot dead the two men who had pulled up alongside his car at a red light in Lahore on January 25.
According to TV channels, Clinton phoned Prime Minister Gilani and sought immediate release of Davis, insisting that he enjoyed diplomatic immunity. However, the prime minister reiterated Pakistan’s stance that the matter was in a court of law and the judicial process must be respected.
The two leaders agreed that the two countries should not allow this one incident to spoil their bilateral relations spanning over 60-plus years.
Meanwhile a British newspaper claimed that Davis is an agent of the American CIA who was on assignment at the time of the incident.
Based on interviews in the US and Pakistan, the Guardian can confirm that the 36-year-old former Special Forces soldier is employed by the CIA. “It’s beyond a shadow of a doubt,” said a senior Pakistani intelligence official.
The revelation may complicate American efforts to free Davis, who insists he was acting in self-defence against a ‘pair of suspected robbers’, both of whom were carrying guns.
“It went way beyond what we define as self-defence. It was not commensurate with the threat,” a senior police official involved in the case told the Guardian.
The Pakistani government is aware of Davis’s CIA status yet has kept quiet in the face of immense American pressure to free him under the Vienna Conventions. Last week President Barack Obama described Davis as “our diplomat” and dispatched his chief diplomatic troubleshooter, Senator John Kerry, to Islamabad. Kerry returned home empty-handed.
Suspicions about Davis’s role were stoked by the equipment police confiscated from his car after the shooting: an unlicensed pistol, a long-range radio, a GPS device, an infrared torch and a camera with pictures of buildings around Lahore.
“This is not the work of a diplomat. He was doing espionage and surveillance activities,” said Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, adding that he had “confirmation” that Davis was a CIA employee.
A number of US media outlets later learned about Davis’s CIA role but have kept it under wraps at the request of the Obama administration, which fears that disclosure could inflame opinion in Pakistan and possibly put Davis at risk.
A Colorado television station, 9NEWS, initially made a connection after speaking to Davis’s wife, who lives outside Denver. She referred its inquiries to a number in Washington which turned out to be the CIA. The station subsequently removed the CIA reference from its website at the request of the US government. Nicole Vap, an executive producer, said: “Because of the safety concerns, we decided to amend the story. But it remains accurate.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 21st, 2011.