Lahore double murder: US tones up push for immunity

Published: January 30, 2011
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Pakistani police escort arrested US national Raymond Davis (C) to a court in Lahore. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

Pakistani police escort arrested US national Raymond Davis (C) to a court in Lahore. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD: After three days of adopting a measured approach, the US Embassy has come out and demanded in absolute terms the release of an official involved in a shootout in Lahore.

However, the Foreign Office does not seem to be convinced of the official’s diplomatic status.

The embassy has stated that Raymond Davis, an official attached to the US consulate in Lahore who gunned down two men at Qurtaba Chowk on Thursday in apparent self-defence, enjoys diplomatic immunity under international law, and cannot be tried in Pakistan.

The embassy has also said that Davis holds a diplomatic passport – which initial reports suggested he didn’t – with a visa valid till June 2012, and therefore should be released immediately.

Initially, the US missions in Pakistan were not confirming the diplomatic status of Davis, who has been given on a six-day remand to the Punjab police by a Lahore magistrate. A one-line statement immediately following the incident had only regretted that the incident resulted in the loss of life.

Saturday’s statement, however, defended Davis’ act saying: “The diplomat had every reason to believe that the armed men meant him bodily harm. Minutes earlier, the two men, who had criminal backgrounds, had robbed money and valuables at gunpoint from a Pakistani citizen in the same area.”

In fact, the statement puts the onus of the confusion on the Pakistani authorities.

It said that the local police and senior authorities failed to observe their legal obligation to verify his status with either the US Consulate General in  Lahore or the US embassy in Islamabad, adding that the arrest and subsequent remand of Davis is a violation of international norms.

However, the press statement did not mention the portfolio of Davis nor explained the nature of the job he is assigned in Pakistan.

Doubts in the Foreign Office

“The Punjab police are handling the investigation and its report is awaited,” Abdul Basit, the spokesperson of the ministry of foreign affairs, remarked when contacted in order to confirm the status of Davis – also pointing out that the matter is before a court of law. “For the above reasons, the foreign ministry has no substantive comments to offer,” he said.

However, other Foreign Office officials, speaking off the record, have expressed doubts about the authenticity of Davis’ diplomatic status, saying that he was not enrolled with their protocol section, which is known as P-2.

They also pointed out that Davis had not presented his diplomatic credentials at the time of his arrest.

Puzzled diplomats

Diplomats in Pakistan were puzzled by the incident, questioning why it took three days for the US embassy to act on Davis’ behalf. “Why did they not act as soon as the incident was reported? Was it because he did not have diplomatic papers at all?” one diplomat said, adding that a diplomat was supposed to carry relevent documents on his person at all times to preempt all possibilities.

They also raised eyebrows on his handiness with firearms – saying that no ordinary diplomat was “trained to fire in such a manner exhibited by Davis”.

Ambassador contacts Sharif

With the Punjab government handling the case, US Ambassador Cameron Munter rang up Nawaz Sharif the chief of the province’s ruling party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), according to a statement by the party.

Expressing grief over the death of three Pakistanis in the incident, Ambassador Munter sought the custody of Davis. Sharif, however, was said to have told the ambassador that the matter was for the court to decide now.

The military weighs in

Highlighting the seriousness of the case for the government, military officials are learnt to have advised the government not to take the matter lightly. They said that political cost of his release would be “stupendous”.

Interestingly, one military official is being said to have even suggested that the case could be “used for urging the United States government to dismiss the case filed against the director-general of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)”, which is being heard by a court in New York.

Meeting summoned

The National Assembly standing committee on interior has directed the secretary of the ministry of foreign affairs to ask the US Consulate Lahore to send a representative to attend a meeting that will take up the issue, according to the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP).

The news agency, quoting documents in its possession, said that the meeting will be held on Jan 31 in parliament house. The chairman of the standing committee, MNA Abdul Qadir, will preside over the meeting. Interior Minister Rehman Malik and other officials of the concerned of ministry have also been asked to attend the meeting.

Also summoned to the meeting are the Inspector General Police Punjab and the Capital City Police Officer Lahore.

The heirs of the two men killed by the US official’s fire have also been invited to attend.

Petition filed

A petition has been filed in the Lahore High Court seeking suo motu notice by the chief justice on the issue of Davis’ status.

Barrister Javed Iqbal Jaafri has filed an application on Saturday requesting that the official’s status should not be put out of the court’s jurisdiction without its approval. The applicant also submitted that Davis should be tried under Pakistani law and no ‘special favours’ be granted by the government.

WITH REPORTING BY RANA TANVEER IN LAHORE

Published in The Express Tribune, January 30th,  2011.

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Reader Comments (25)

  • Jan 30, 2011 - 12:36PM

    That man should not be released at all. What about all the Pakistanis who are going through hell in American jails? None of them is a murderer and most of them are entirely innocent but Pakistani authorities are busy in collecting dollars. sad!Recommend

  • Jan 30, 2011 - 12:38PM

    No immunity for murderers.They talk about Vienna Convention, What about drone attacks & Geneva convention.Recommend

  • Rana Hamza
    Jan 30, 2011 - 3:06PM

    If he will be released,
    It will surely be injustice with Pakistani’s and Dr.Aafia siddique
    Lets see what happens nowRecommend

  • Asif Osama
    Jan 30, 2011 - 3:18PM

    give us afia siddiqui in exchange of raymond davisRecommend

  • SA
    Jan 30, 2011 - 3:35PM

    Hahaha… I’m not surprised!!Recommend

  • Waseem Baig
    Jan 30, 2011 - 3:47PM

    Must b deal wd merit and justice if Gvernment show weekness then ready to face “Inqlaab” like Tunsia & EgypetRecommend

  • Haider Haroon
    Jan 30, 2011 - 3:48PM

    I am convinced that Raymond Davis is NOT a diplomat because if he was, he would have put forward his diplomatic credentials immediately after being arrested and claimed immunity (which he did, but without proving his diplomatic status). In the last 3-4 days after the incident, I believe the US government and US embassy have somehow managed to arrange the required documents that grant him diplomatic status therefore diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention. I believe Davis is an employee of Blackwater and his shooting prowess supports this point. As Saim Baig has said, Diplomat or no diplomat, there is no immunity for murderers. As for the Vienna Convention, It is against the most equality and accountability as “no one is above the law”.Recommend

  • Jan 30, 2011 - 4:40PM

    Bottom line, if Pak doesn’t release, many of the Pakis in DC and New York can be arrested and prosecuted for breaking local laws form expired parking tickets, illegal parking, hit and runs and what noit.

    The fact will bear out that the two thugs were trying to mug the man and he shot them. Pakistan is a stupid country always trying to kick the gift horse in the mouth making stupid noises. This will end up in another embarrassment for Pakistan. What’s new? Always insert foot deep and look for excuses is the state policy.

    Dr. Afia Siddique is terrorist if not she would have stayed put instead of being in a war zone. Recommend

  • Sobriquet
    Jan 30, 2011 - 5:49PM

    The most that Raymond Davis can be charged for is manslaughter and NOT murder. People screaming for ‘justic’ need to understand the difference between murder and manslaughter and also need to ask why the two/three men on motorcycles were forcibly trying to stop the car.

    If Raymond Davis has diplomatic immunity then he can not even be charged for manslaughter. Pakistan can only declare him a ‘persona non grata’ and deport him. You guys need to understands the basis of the law before braying for Raymond Davis’ blood.Recommend

  • Jan 30, 2011 - 6:58PM

    NO Diplomatic Immunity for ‘Diplomats’ who Killed Pakistanis:

    The United Nations Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations does NOT grant diplomatic immunity to any US diplomatic murderer of innocent Pakistanis, illegal guns-bullets holder, fake car license plates driver, violator of traffic laws, hit & run criminal, or outlaw who has intentionally committed heinous crimes against innocent Pakistanis in Pakistan.
    Therefore, the US Embassy (Islamabad) press release of 29-1-2011 is an unlawful Obstruction of Justice.

    ‎3. “No Diplomat has Immunity to Kill: Sanaullah. [PML-N] Punjab Law Minister Rana Sana Ullah [Khan] has said that according to United Nations and Geneva resolutions [UN international laws], NO diplomat has immunity to kill innocent citizens of any country. He said that Punjab Government will take legal action against US national Raymond Davis. He said that USA should accept the court decision.” – OnlineNews (Pakistan – 29-1-2011).

    Journalist SYED ADEEB
    Virginia, USA

    http://www.viennaconventionondiplomaticrelations50thanniv.org
    http://www.facebook.com/adeebmedia
    http://www.SyedAdeeb.net
    Recommend

  • Naveed
    Jan 30, 2011 - 8:23PM

    First of ALL;
    1-Raymond Davis was not on diplomatic visa. He has Diplomatic passport but not diplomatic visa for Pakistan. He was on Business visa
    2- Two men who got murdered were shot from back. Its not in self defence. You never shot someone from back if you are doing it for self defence.
    3-He was not on official duty so he doesn’t have an immunity.
    4- As a diplomat you need to inform local law inforcement agencies about your movement which he didn’t. he had unlicensed weapons. So its another crime
    5 America,itself doesn’t give immunity to senior diplomats from other country then why should we.
    Mr. Sorbiquet, You guys need to get basic education and then talk about legal issuesRecommend

  • Naveed
    Jan 30, 2011 - 8:27PM

    @Fact checking. Its not a matter of embrassement for Pakistan. Its matter of embrassement for Usa. US citizens doesn’t follows the rules of other countries. You should have self respect to accept these factsRecommend

  • Aamir
    Jan 30, 2011 - 10:05PM

    @Sobriquet:
    Do you even know the meanings of word “justice”…..don’t you dare to give us a lecture on justice. Recommend

  • syed maududi
    Jan 30, 2011 - 10:14PM

    i dont see any tributes or candle vigils for the 3 victims. where are our noisy liberals?? the great white man shot them. its like the drones. we must be privileged. killed by a white man.Recommend

  • ABH
    Jan 30, 2011 - 10:35PM

    Readers please have some sense and imagine yourself in a car in a terrorist stricken lawless country where two men on motor cycles come with pointing gun at you…what would do forget about who is he or what country he is from ask yourself be the judge what would you do….Davis did everything right in self defence. Criminal should be met with similar weapons they threaten innocent people…Wake up educated pakistanis please…Problem with pakistan is that it has not only created the monster of terrorism and criminalism but fanatics sections of it continue to train abett and encourages terrorism and criminalism. Its roug Army is playing a double game with America….getting billions in free aid on the name of terrorism and on the same time diverting most of its money to train and abett the same terrorists against America and hide dreaded terrorists like osma bin laden. The government in pakistan is nothing but a puppet Government which just follows the orders from roug army and ISI. And course of LAW does not exist…its supereme court jugde was in jail while ago…due to political problem.. Diplomat has been made scape goat of all the hatered they have against America. Ask any pakistani if he or she was in similar situation followed by an armed man what would they do..Do not think about taking revenge against America think about what is right for your country and what is happening to it at the moment and who is to blame for it… Raymond should be immediately released as he only acted in self defence otherwise he would have been the victim of this crime himself.Recommend

  • Longmemory
    Jan 31, 2011 - 1:21AM

    Biting the hand that feeds you is never a smart move. As long as Pakistan takes our dollars, they are in no position to do this. Stop all aid to Pakistan. Supporting the corrupt is money down the drain.

    Regardless of how justified the shooting was or was not, arresting and charging a diplomat is an act of war, and the Pakistanis would be wise back down from this. At worst, the only right they have is to kick him out of the country.Recommend

  • pst314
    Jan 31, 2011 - 1:46AM

    Ah, Pakistan. I wouldn’t visit that barbarous, bandit-ridden, religiously insane cesspit for all the money in the world.Recommend

  • Longmemory
    Jan 31, 2011 - 1:53AM

    “Interestingly, one military official is being said to have even suggested that the case could be “used for urging the United States government to dismiss the case filed against the director-general of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)”, which is being heard by a court in New York.”

    IOW, lets hold him as a political hostage, a bargaining chip.

    Is this about justice or piracy ransom?Recommend

  • Aamir
    Jan 31, 2011 - 2:31AM

    @ABH:
    You must be living in dreamworld where every thing is so perfect. Dubious people like you come on this forum and spew their hatred against Pakistan and its army, namely ISI. On what ground you are accusing Pakistan of being breading ground for terrorists…..in fact Pakistan itself is a victim of terrorism.

    Thanks to Americans who are spreading the menace of terrorism all over the world, especially in Muslim countries to gain their heinous agenda. Recommend

  • Shezy
    Jan 31, 2011 - 9:02PM

    Well i am totally condemn the case filed against Raymond.
    302 Pakistan penal Court act what a joke
    i wonder why Pakistani Government did not filed case in anti Terrorist Courts and not handling a terrorist as he should be handled. Terrorist who is displaying his gun power in public and killed 3 pakistani should be dealt under Anti Terrorist Laws of country and find the roots of Various terrorist activities country wide.

    @ABH
    my Dear you are forgetting the crime scene. Terrorist shot them from back and 3rd innocent killed in this incident has no gun but was on his way. if Raymond is innocent why the 2nd vehicle rushed from the scene

    why US embassy took so long time to declare him So called Diplomat?
    why the vehicle number plate is bogus?
    what was his so called diplomatic interest in that area?
    why so called diplomat has not informed the Police about his movement?

    do you have the answerRecommend

  • kumar
    Jan 31, 2011 - 11:21PM

    @Longmemory:
    Well, if he didnt have a diplomatic visa (regardless of his passport) he is not a diplomat and not entitled to the protection of the vienna convention, period.

    I believe they are trying to do a deal and it is possible, even a bargaining chip. Its going to be a really hard bargain, maybe.Recommend

  • Jose
    Feb 1, 2011 - 5:16PM

    They were robbers who got killed. Otherwise why would he kill someone without any reason in a busy market place????Recommend

  • Shezy
    Feb 1, 2011 - 7:21PM

    Well Jose i would like to ask you that Judiciary in Pakistan is fully functional and how can you call them as robbers without having trial Recommend

  • SA
    Feb 2, 2011 - 1:50PM

    @Shezy: Let Jose decide, anyone in the world can give a verdict sooner than our judiciary!!Recommend

  • SA
    Feb 2, 2011 - 1:53PM

    @Longmemory: Lets start a war then! You’re ready? Why dont you stop feeding them simply? Do you think we’re robbers not beggars? Hahaha yankees being looted at gunpoint by paki government that sounds funny!Recommend

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