The release of Raymond Davis

Published: March 17, 2011
The mechanism or system under which agents similar to Raymond Davis operate may need to be re-examined. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

The mechanism or system under which agents similar to Raymond Davis operate may need to be re-examined. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

That Raymond Davis would eventually be released was inevitable. You don’t bite the hand that feeds you and Pakistan, unfortunately, has been feeding from the American trough for far too long. In the end, all parties involved were able to sort out the tragic incident in as satisfactory a manner as was possible under the circumstances. Davis’s release ultimately was secured in a relatively above-the-board manner with the families of his victims being paid diyat or ‘blood money’. Of course, this only happened after weeks of negotiations between the US and Pakistan governments and no doubt the families were pressurised to accept the blood money, but that Davis was freed in accordance with the principles of Islamic law should dampen the outrage of the religious parties and their supporters on the political right and in sections of the media (though evidence of that was scarce till the time this was being written on the evening following his release). The release was announced by the Punjab law minister who said that the provincial government had nothing to do with this, although the editor of an English-language weekly tweeted the same evening that the provincial chief minister had in fact played a role in it.

Even if diyat had not been paid, there are two cases to be made that show why releasing Davis was the correct and sensible thing to do. One is legalistic and the other is practical. If, as the US claimed and seems to be borne out by the evidence, Davis held a diplomatic passport, then he should have diplomatic immunity and that can be lifted only by the country of the individual and not the host nation. No matter how passionate the religious parties may have been about trying and convicting Davis, there is no getting past the fact that we are signatories to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and thus have to abide by its terms. The only issue was that a Pakistani law required that all diplomats who have claim to such immunity be given a certificate issued by the Foreign Office, which was apparently not done with Davis. The Americans were insistent however that Davis qualified for immunity and hence should have been released and sent back to the US without delay. In all fairness, the murky nature of Davis’s diplomatic status has to be shared equally by Pakistan as well as America. It is incumbent on the Foreign Office to explain in writing the status of all foreign embassy staff. They conspicuously failed to do that. The US, meanwhile, in the days after the Davis incident, kept changing and clarifying their story, initially saying that he was with the US consulate in Lahore and then saying he was with the embassy in Islamabad. This suggested, at least to ordinary Pakistanis already driven by rage and resentment against his actions, that perhaps there was something that America was hiding.

That said, it is worth pointing out that given Pakistan’s dependence on the US, in particular for military aid, it was only a matter of time that Davis would have been released. Of course, this is not to deny the fact that America also needs Pakistan in the fight against terrorism and for maintaining peace and stability in Afghanistan and in South Asia in general, but it should be accepted that the balance of relations is tilted quite heavily in America’s favour. Had this incident happened between, say, China and America or even India and America, the result may have been different. We have said it before in this space, and will reiterate, that unless Pakistanis, especially the business and traders class, are prepared to pay their due share in taxes they cannot really complain about issues like loss of sovereignty a la Raymond Davis. Our leverage with the US is practically non-existent precisely because we are heavily reliant on it for financial assistance, military aid and even for aid from the IMF, given that Washington exercises massive influence over its lending priorities. Unfortunately, facts, reason and practical thinking are not really the strong points of our reactionaries and sections of the media who obfuscated the issue no end – and may well continue to do so. It may well be that we see protests and demonstrations against Mr Davis’s release in the days ahead, despite the fact that he was freed in accordance with the qisas and diyat law.

Although the saga may now be over, there are plenty of lessons to be learned for both Pakistan and the US. Until cooler heads prevailed, it looked like the alliance between the two countries may have been affected by the actions of one man. To prevent a repeat occurrence, the overall mechanism or system under which agents similar to Raymond Davis operate inside Pakistan may need to be re-examined and perhaps the standard operating procedure overhauled so that such an incident does not happen again. Of course, even here, it is worth reminding that usually such deployments are done with the full knowledge of the relevant ministry and intelligence agencies of the host country and it would be fair to assume that this happened in Mr Davis’s case.

As for the two governments, they need to put this behind them and realise that there is far more to gain from continuing with their at-times fractious relationship. In this regard, a recent statement by a major-general in charge of forces in North Waziristan that US drone strikes kill mostly terrorists is perhaps a pointer. It is also imperative that this case not be allowed to affect intelligence-sharing activities between the intelligence agencies of the two countries. There have been numerous reports of frictions between the two agencies over Raymond Davis. Since Mr Davis could not have been freed without the approval, tacit of otherwise, of the real force in charge of such matters in this country, it can be said that now relations should return to normality. The US may be miffed at how all this played out but they still need our cooperation in the fight against militancy as much as ever. The last seven weeks were fraught with tension but it is finally time to put that behind us.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 17th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (26)

  • Star Of David
    Mar 17, 2011 - 3:34AM

    The Families took the money… “Diyat”, “Blood Money”… That is “SHARIA LAW”… so why the fuss now?… First you cry for Islamic Justice and Sharia Law… and when it is implemented you still say the decision was wrong? Are you Hypocrites or just plain STUPID? The case is closed… Life Goes On… SimpleRecommend

  • Imran
    Mar 17, 2011 - 3:43AM

    when are we going to wake up….wake up before its too lateRecommend

  • F Robinson
    Mar 17, 2011 - 6:07AM

    Nice Editorial -releasing US diplomat Davis was the correct and sensible thing to do.Recommend

  • liyaqat
    Mar 17, 2011 - 6:38AM

    Congratulation Express tribune you got your man. Now lanuch another compaiegn with your liberal terroists to hang assasin of taseer.Recommend

  • Arindom
    Mar 17, 2011 - 6:56AM

    Yeah, time to put that behind us and resume begging…Recommend

  • Mar 17, 2011 - 9:33AM

    Hats off to Pakistan for keeping Raymond for so long, if it were Afghanistan he would be out in seconds. Lets keep our Egos in the trunk till we get back on our financial feet. I kept asking some Americans what happened to the old cyanide pills? One American would have destroyed decades of interaction between the two countries. I hope the Pakistani interrogators used the lie detector to get to what Mr America was up to, but then it will all be kept a secret cause we were in on it too. The 3rd Party (just about everywhere). Recommend

  • John
    Mar 17, 2011 - 11:06AM

    Or perhaps now with R. Davis incidence that US has come to realize that she can not relie on PAK for full cooperation as she had been in the past and may decide to do things without PAK in future. Has it ever occured in the analysis?Recommend

  • Rifat Iqbal
    Mar 17, 2011 - 11:08AM

    Beggars cannot be choosers- Poor Iqbal while be remembering his own verse ‘Punishment for crime of frailty is nothing but death.Recommend

  • Billoo Bhaya
    Mar 17, 2011 - 12:29PM

    FBR says 75% of tax evaded. Mr.10% and Gunjjah Sharif have their own racketeering organizations humming away. Mr. Editor says Pakistani’s should be taxes. Tell me Mr. Editor what has the Government done for its citizens? Education? Healthcare? Unemployment insurance? Creating Jobs? Building Dams? Power Supply? Water Supply? Gas Supply? Sugar and Atta Supply? Build new Cemeteries? Tell me just one, please just one issue they have resolved other than Raymond Davis. Recommend

  • Mar 17, 2011 - 1:16PM

    On the contrary the US should now rely more on Pakistan as it was able to release a person who was involved in anti-world activities. Just free the media in the US and the world will be a much better place.Recommend

  • sharjeel anjum
    Mar 17, 2011 - 2:25PM

    well done pakistan!!

    Beghairat awam k beghairat hukumraan.It wasn’t the govt.,it wasn’t the agencies,it wasn’t the judge that set free raymond davis.In the end his release was made possible only because the heirs(wursa) of the dead men greedily took crores in cash & american visas.

    The awam has shown that they are just as willing to sell out their country for money as are their leaders.The real & only people to blame in raymond’s release are the greedy families of the dead men.Recommend

  • ani
    Mar 17, 2011 - 3:54PM

    That all famous Pakistani bluster and ghairat amounted to nothing. With a wimper, the client state found the qisas and diyat laws and surrendered to its paymaster. Recommend

    Mar 17, 2011 - 4:33PM

    The federal and state govts, ISI, CIA and the honourable court must have been all involved in the deal to release the American. Well done, a happy ending for all parties.Recommend

  • amlendu
    Mar 17, 2011 - 4:43PM

    Really?????? “liberal terrorists????????
    I think this should be included in all English teaching courses as the best example of oxymoron.Recommend

  • Cautious
    Mar 17, 2011 - 8:09PM

    In short – if Pakistan had just followed international law this individual would have been deported and held in am American jail waiting investigation and trial under American law. Every country would prefer to try foreign diplomats on their soil but that’s not how international law works – and every embassy has plenty of people who have questionable diplomatic immunity but the host country doesn’t get a say in who is a diplomat – they can only deport the ones they don’t like. Your xenophobic anti American response combined with your reliance on a religion which allows one to be pardoned with bribe money has provided you with more tangible evidence of why the World views Pakistan poorly. The Pakistani govt let this issue get out of hand – unnecessarily raised the ire of the public knowing that in the long run they could not win. Just another example of poor leadership which was probably using this issue to extract some “personal favors”, Pathetic.Recommend

  • John
    Mar 17, 2011 - 9:22PM

    @Fayyaz Shah:
    I doubt it. People in US, both public and in Gov are openly saying that the PAK has become an unreliable partner, and walking on both sides the streets. These comments mean a lot in US.

    If PAK thinks that the world needs her to fight war on terrorism, then the world thinks that PAK is breeding terrorism. There is the dichotomy of thinking.

    US aid will continue to come, no matter, but that does not mean US is considering PAK an reliable partner. Times have changed. Recommend

  • IZ
    Mar 18, 2011 - 8:55AM

    Why isn’t Saudi Arabia’s role in the release of Davis being mentioned?
    “A prominet leader of Pakistan Muslim League (N), Siddique al Farooq, has said that Saudi Arab played vital role in release of the American Contract Killer, Raymond Davis. He has told BBC that family of the victims of Raymond Davis were taken to Saudi Arab to perform Umrah (a religious pilgrimage to the Islamic holy city Mecca, where Khana Kaba and other historical buildings are located). During Umrah the Saudi authorities convinced the family of Raymond’s victims to accept “blood money, Diyya” for the death of their beloved.”

  • Mar 18, 2011 - 9:58AM

    out here people are openly saying that the current and past Pakistani Governments were selected by the US (wiki confirms that). so if you select unreliable partners why do you complain about their deeds. For the past 30 years no Government of Pakistan has ever represented the will or interest of the people. On the other hand if true Democratic forces are supported this Region will be a much better palace. and that will be the 3rd Party of,by and for the people, Recommend

  • Raymond Davis
    Mar 18, 2011 - 1:06PM

    hahahaha =p I got away ! =DRecommend

  • John
    Mar 18, 2011 - 1:10PM

    @Fayyaz Shah:
    Well, I guess I can agree with you to some extent what you are saying. Unfortunately, all the major parties in Pakistan in all these years openly showed themselves to be under US control. And the country’s military as well. Musharaff was the most visible of our time, but never came out good in US beyond Washington.

    As far as I can say, the US never picked the governments, but all the governments that came to power were dependent on US/UK support. So it is a vicious cycle. Corruption of the top politicians and institutional political rivalry locally brings all in collision course. It pains to see every PAK politicians have a luxurious mansions in UK, and they have no history of hereditary wealth. So in modern times people out side of PAK have begin to notice.

    In my objective opinion, the local PAK politics corrupts the system for all to exploit.

    It is a tragedy to see that in the country no leaders can survive living peacefully once they complete their term. They all are in self imposed exile and they lend themselves for corruption.

    Not sure really who are the real democratic forces in PAK and who their leaders are.

    Economic stability and general public education/knowledge are essential for true democracy to survive. Press is an important part, but I am not sure if they are doing their duty objectively in mass media such as TV.
    All nations have vested political, economic, diplomatic interests and within these selfish frame work they find themselves to work as allies. Unfortunately, the anti-America mantra has become a political survival in PAK, and in the modern world of face book, you tube, Twitter, satellite TV,etc., which all came within the post 9/11 period, it does not go well.

    Let us ask an hypothetical question which is important for the comment I initially posted. Ten years from now when PAK economy is vibrantly growing at the rate of 6 % growth, and for some idiotic reason a conflict occurs between IND and PAK, initiated by some ambitious general from PAK side, as in Kargil, which side will US support? I think you know the answer.

    Assuming there is an overt conflict between Iran and US in the future. Which side PAK will be?
    Assuming there is an unrest in Muslim majority areas of ethnic Chinese. China will crack down, and can now PAK support China openly or the Muslim majority population for brotherly religious affection as the public would like to have. The same can go between China and Tibet. Which side will PAK vote?

    I think both US and PAK leadership knows this conflicting positions of each other. So the partnership is not as strong as people in PAK tend to believe. It is purely transactional.

    PAK leadership always chose a short term political gain over long term national interest and often on the wrong side for wrong reason. Classical scenario of modern times: India supported Northern Alliance and the PAK ignored NA and supported Taliban. Now, NA and India are in inseparable bond. PAK cries foul, but US-India-NA are in for a long haul and PAK stuck in the middle. Now PAK and IND are talking about IND international legal rights to Afghanistan via road for trade, which PAK once thought that it was her strategic asset.

    So not every thing that is going on in PAK is due to US. A good news is, that it is unlikely any more military take over. Rather military will be an active commercial institution in supply chain logistics in regional trade. So there is a period of hope for democracy to take root whatever form that best fits PAK, if all institutions of PAK are in line.

    PAK has everything, fertile soil, natural resources, abundant water that can make balochistan a fertile valley, an excellent market to her east, and to middle east, and money. What it lacks is true leadership.Recommend

  • Mar 18, 2011 - 6:52PM

    I agree with you and wish the US foreign affairs gurus could think likewise. Its the Nexis that has laid the foundation for turning other country politics into a game called “Risk”. If the world were caring they would have rationalized the ping pong diplomacy between India and Pakistan, all other local disputes would have been resolved, One wonders if there were a United Nations of Asia would we still be in chaos?. Remember Chaos is the fuel that runs the machinery of terrorists, Wile the world is still contemplating various strategy to roll back early goof ups the Terrorist Incorporated have faster methods of captivating recruits with unlimited funds. Since Pakistan is nearly bankrupt one wonders who actually is behind all this??.Recommend

  • Mar 18, 2011 - 7:00PM

    What would be the greatest achievement ever is that Mr Davis is tried in the US and exposed cause he was working for the mean side of the two headed Monster, the rational side is always late cause it goes by the rules. Recommend

  • Mar 18, 2011 - 7:07PM

    @R S JOHAR:
    Uncover the plot and you expose the whole Multinational Syndicate. Its not the Agencies but the chosen few that dare to do the unmentionable and the few mindless (or Heartless) Corporations that are now running (or is ruining) world affairs. I guess its time for the Terminators. 3rd Party.Recommend

  • Allen Hussen
    Mar 19, 2011 - 4:53AM

    @Star Of David:
    He may have been released according to Islamic law but the principle still stands. The aggrieved party being the family might have been paid off (forcefully or not), the issue remains that this gentleman without clarity of diplomatic immunity status went into a foreign country and killed two men. The story does not add in that you do not shoot people in the back if you yourself are fleeing from them. Even if he did have the correct paperwork, since when did diplomatic immunity allow the prescience to kill people without consequence in a hosts country. As is all too easily forgotten, this is an Islamic developing country. Assume for one moment that a Pakistani national went to America and shot two Americans in the back with incomplete paperwork to declare his diplomatic immunity – how would this scenario have played out then…….Recommend

  • Mar 19, 2011 - 9:58AM

    @Allen Hussen:
    One must start looking at what happened to Aimal Kansi the guy who shot CIA agents in the chest supposedly for betraying his father, should he have been given diplomatic status as well?Recommend

  • Arshad Ali Khan
    Mar 21, 2011 - 4:09PM

    I would like to quote Cicero that Law is like a spider net; when the storm comes it washed away all such traces of spider net. The powerful nation is like storm, as the American came and had taken away their top most wanted terrorist from the middle of Pakistan. They took Ramsey from Baluchistan and killed him in the holy month of Ramdan. So might is right is all right, but now they have started to resolve family problem in any home of Pakistan because it is their duty to set it right. They have done great service to Afghanistan, to Iraq and now worried about Libyan people. If they have taken the world contract to set every right. They have killed millions of people because they want to make them free from the terrorist and cruel ruler. They are now free, have no feeling at all because they are buried or still their flesh and bones are in the smoke. If such a freedom will be long last which has been achieved with other help? I mean the family problems should be resolved by family members, no help is needed from the outside world. Let them sort out their fate… Recommend

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