Raymond Davis: The plot thickens

Published: February 22, 2011

Raymond Davis is escorted by police and officials out of court after facing a judge in Lahore January 28, 2011. Davis, held in Pakistan on double murder charges for a shooting in Lahore last month, is employed by the CIA as a contractor, U.S. sources closely following the case said.

The expected additional information on the antecedents of CIA agent Raymond Davis, carrying a US diplomatic passport, has complicated the case of murder against him at a Lahore sessions court. His cell phone has revealed contacts with two ancillaries of al Qaeda in Pakistan, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and sectarian Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), which has led to the public conclusion that he was behind terrorism committed against Pakistan’s security personnel and its people .

This revelation is strengthened by the admission appearing in the hitherto self-gagged American press that he was a CIA ‘contractor’ working ‘under cover’. The complication introduced into the Raymond Davis affair is that high functionaries in Punjab are now suggesting that he be tried in a military court. This will strike people as America in cahoots with the Taliban and al Qaeda against the state of Pakistan targeting, as one official opined, Pakistan’s nuclear installations.

The American side is referring Davis’s presence in Pakistan under a “secret agreement” between Pakistan and the US which allowed “clandestine CIA operations” in Pakistan. This agreement was entered into by General Musharraf and his military hierarchy, including the ISI, “to make the Americans believe that Islamabad was not secretly helping the Taliban insurgents”. The military establishment also allowed the CIA “to acquire the services of private security firms, including Blackwater and DynCorp, to conduct surveillance on the Taliban and al Qaeda.”

The American press, while disclosing these facts, however, is hinting at Pakistani acquiescence in the activities of agents like Raymond Davis. It is quite obvious that the two sides are putting a different gloss on what Raymond Davis was doing in Pakistan. The American side thinks he was trailing terrorists likely to strike at the US, which included maintaining contacts with them. The Pakistani side thinks he was actually in collusion with the terrorists and could be planning terrorist attacks against innocent Pakistani citizens. In Pakistan, this difference of interpretation is bound to introduce complications into the legal case being heard by a Lahore court. The American establishment is desperately trying to prevent Davis’s case from taking a new anti-American direction.

The question to ask is that if the two sides were under indeed a ‘secret agreement’, what has happened now to change this anti-terrorism relationship? Having said that, it is worth repeating that countries often deploy their intelligence personnel overseas and usually the host nation is kept fully informed of such deployment — this applies to Pakistan as well, which may have such operatives in foreign posts, quite like Mr Davis, though their tasks may be widely divergent. The point is that the host nation is usually aware of the presence of operatives who often work under diplomatic cover, something that Washington is claiming for Davis.

Recent reports have made it clear that relations between the ISI and CIA were at their lowest ebb. Some observers in Pakistan had speculated that the drone attacks stopped after the arrest of Davis because of disruption of relations between the two intelligence agencies, though the Americans have said that this is due to bad weather. At the political level, too, there was a cooling off after the Pakistan Army resolutely opposed the American advice that it attack North Waziristan. Is the current crisis, as symbolised by the Davis case, an offshoot of this quarrel?

If it is, it should be resolved at the levels where the two countries engage in consultations. After that, the case in Lahore should be looked at objectively. Because of the public passion and the way the indictment of Raymond Davis has been put together by the police, no one outside Pakistan will consider it a fair trial. Of course, there are larger issues beyond Raymond Davis — and these relate to the whole structure or edifice, so to speak, under which states permits intelligence operatives of other countries on their soil. This, rather than the question of immunity, is something that critics of the government’s handling of the Raymond Davis case need to look into.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 23rd, 2011.

Reader Comments (10)

  • Vincent Maadi
    Feb 22, 2011 - 10:43PM

    From you editorial I get the feeling that your paper is financed by the Americans. How dare you try to let Americans off the hook? I hope the courts in Pakistan use the full force of the law against this American terrorist.Recommend

  • Demril Shaikh
    Feb 22, 2011 - 11:11PM

    even if he has a diplomatic passport…I as a citizen of Pakistan…dont care….no immunity gives him the right to come to Pakistan and kill our people…its our home.. you cant enter this place and kill our brothers n sistersRecommend

  • Majid Nasim Ahmad
    Feb 23, 2011 - 1:21AM

    Raymond Davis should be tried in all courts, including a military court, so as to set an example so that USA doesn’t try anymore stunts like this in Pakistan again. Actually, the USA sent Raymond Davis and other secret agents to Pakistan to provide Al-Qaeda terrorists with “nuclear fissile material” and “biological agents” according to the EU Times online newspaper which also said that Raymond Davis had been found in possession of top-secret CIA documents that point to him or a US task force (TF373) operating in the region,
    The report, quoting Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), said: “Top-secret CIA documents found in Davis’s possession point to him, and/or TF373, providing Qaeda terrorists with ‘nuclear fissile material’ and ‘biological agents’ to be used against the United States itself in order to ignite an all-out war in order to reestablish the West’s hegemony over the global economy that just months from collapse”. So, that means that the USA is involved in state terrorism and Al-Qaeda is a puppet of the USA.Recommend

  • Feb 23, 2011 - 1:29AM

    Who apart from this paper has backed the claim that Raymond Davis had contacts with terrorist organizations and that too for nefarious or maligned reasons? Every paper has carried the argument that he was working as part of a team to monitor the said organizations, which also operated and supported a network of contacts and informants amongst these organizations. The original piece, published in this paper, seemed vague and imprecise, which allowed for everyone to create a perfect storm of CIA+Nuclear Weapons+Terrorism.

    Who is this “Pakistani Side” which believes that he is in cahoots with the terrorists? Since when has Rana Sanaullah become a reliable source of information and insight given his past?

    His status as a CIA operative, ex-special forces, XE contractor doesnt change the nature of the crime. As it is obvious that our security apparatus knew of his and his colleagues activities, stirring everyone up serves no purpose but to feed everyones suspicions, rather than reality. One hoped that justice would be served to the victims of his actions, now it seems that a mob just wants to tie him up and hang him, as if that is going to prove something. Recommend

  • JihadBob
    Feb 23, 2011 - 8:22AM

    Since waterboarding isn’t torture according to the American lexicon, Davis should be waterboarded 100 times a day until he spills the beans on everything he knows. That should be sufficient to convict him as a terrorist which should lead to his execution. Davis must pay for his crimes with his life!Recommend

  • Feb 23, 2011 - 11:44AM

    This is quite a turnaround from your earlier infamous editorial [http://tribune.com.pk/story/119874/the-raymond-davis-case-emotion-and-realpolitik/ ] which conjured up charges of Tribune being a Trojan horse in Pakistan (as in my blog). If the Tribune wishes to be taken seriously by the people of Pakistan, it must avoid showing bias towards the USA’s government.

    I do not know where you get your funding from, which may or may not have something to do with the bias that creeps into your reports and the trashy opinion pieces that you publish from time to time. And do avoid censoring people’s views unnecessarily.Recommend

  • BZ
    Feb 23, 2011 - 4:41PM

    “Having said that, it is worth repeating that countries often deploy their intelligence personnel overseas and usually the host nation is kept fully informed of such deployment — this applies to Pakistan as well…”. What? This is so untrue. I don’t know where you got this, but the host country is usually NOT informed of such deployments.Recommend

  • Billoo Bhaya
    Feb 24, 2011 - 11:29PM

    @JihadBob:
    Agree completely. What is good for the Goose is good for Gander.Recommend

  • Billoo Bhaya
    Feb 25, 2011 - 12:03AM

    @Sakib Ahmad:
    Agree. Far too much editing of comments is conducted. At Washington Post comments are posted without editing, and for articles on Pakistan and Pakistanis, readers use expletives, abuse and negative stereotyping in their comments. Tribune too should allow people to express their feelings instead of “gagging them” as done by the Obama Administration. This is a nation where the first Amendment is about Free Press and Free Speach???? It was not until the Guardian article that the US media were permitted to cover this case and then too with a jaundiced eye. Of course, Masharraf was a rotten apple for Pakistan in allowing free access to a foreign power. Shakespeare’s lines “something rotten in the state of Denmark” apply to us better than to the Denish prince Hamlet. Finally, because Musharraf permitted CIA operations does this not fall under Article 6 and the Army Act, under which Musharraf should be proceeded against?? Recommend

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