Bon voyage, Raymond Davis

Published: March 17, 2011
Who was responsible for the release? What were the concessions made on both sides to facilitate the release?

Who was responsible for the release? What were the concessions made on both sides to facilitate the release?

Raymond Davis was released on Wednesday and flown out of the country. A lot of people are asking if justice was done. The release raises two fundamental questions.

First, who was responsible for the release?

Second, what were the concessions made on both sides of the table to facilitate the release?

The future of Pakistan-US relations and geo-political developments in the region will depend on the nature of the final agreement.

The release was clearly not the work of the federal or provincial governments. Although Najam Sethi tweeted about Shahbaz Sharif playing a critical role, his responsibility may be limited to facilitating the entire release drama. Notwithstanding Punjab Law Rana Sanaullah’s claim that the provincial government was not in the know on the decision, it is hard to rule out PML-N involvement in trying to convince the families of those killed by Raymond Davis to forgive him under provisions of Shariah law.

The Qisas and Diyat law, which was passed in 1997 by the then Nawaz Sharif government, has been used on hundreds of occasions to buy forgiveness for killers. This law privatises a crime like homicide and devolves the responsibility for punishing a killer to the next of kin of the victim. The reason it was not used earlier in the Davis case was possibly because the time was not ripe.

Rana Sanaullah’s lame statement reflects his anticipation of a reaction from hardcore right-wingers inside the PML-N. With cooperation from the right quarters, however, Shahbaz Sharif’s government will be able to deal with any public protest.

In any case, the general perception was that the religious right organisations did not manage to bring people out on the streets on the Davis issue. Therefore, they were keen to link it with the blasphemy laws issue. There may be some street protests and comments from Imran Khan trying to pin it all on the federal government. But the Zardari-Gilani duo could not have managed it as their first effort resulted in friction within the party.

There should be little doubt that the release was possible  due to successful negotiations between the CIA and the ISI. This was all along a spat between the two intelligence agencies which Pakistan’s media did not point out until very late. Another twitterati, Columnist Cyril Almeida, raised the question of a possible link between Gen Pasha’s extension, the Pakistan Army’s agreement to launch a military operation in North Waziristan and Davis’ release, pointing at some secret agreement. Without GHQ’s involvement the judiciary might not have appreciated the significance of the matter for national security and not stopped the Lahore High Court from giving a judgment on the immunity issue immediately.

The million-dollar question now is: what was agreed upon? It seems that the US and Rawalpindi have renegotiated terms of engagement so GHQ will play a greater role in dealing with Washington than the Presidency in Islamabad. General Petraeus’s recent testimony to the US Congress mentions the Pakistan Army’s apprehensions regarding not being taken into confidence on Afghanistan. It is a considered opinion in Washington that Pakistan was not totally on board with the objectives of the war on terror. Did Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor, fall victim to this misunderstanding and has he been released after the problem was sorted out? Another pertinent question pertains to the future of American policy on Pakistan-based militant groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and others. Does a possible agreement involve America backing off from its focus on these organisations, which are considered friendly by the military?

Raymond Davis’ release will for some time increase anxiety amongst the Pakistani people, including the urban-educated-twitterati. GHQ will ensure that this does not really boil over. Or perhaps this will give a lead to an internal move to bring domestic change. What’s certain is that the way the issue has unfolded is fairytale material.

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

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Reader Comments (51)

  • faraz
    Mar 17, 2011 - 7:36AM

    Imran khan is a political non-entity so GHQ will allow him to carry out protests with his teenager crowd. Recommend

  • Mar 17, 2011 - 7:45AM

    Good article. I suspect something much more secret arrangements taking place behind closed doors between the USA and ISI, who had the ultimate decision on RD’s fate.Recommend

  • safder liod
    Mar 17, 2011 - 7:48AM

    It is an entire show of corrupt judiciary as pointed out by Justice R Wajehudin S.court. No one knows how much did the judge get Dolars & Visa oht of this deal ? TH=he judiciary need Taleban to Correc & Reform ?Recommend

  • Raja
    Mar 17, 2011 - 7:51AM

    Hillary Clinton says US did not pay blood money.

    The Raymond Davis Episode is nothing more than yet another Vintage Pakistani Drama.

    The sequence is ALWAYS as follows:

    1.Pick up fights, disputes with opponents underestimating the opponent’s strengths, exaggerating pak strengths.

    2.Indulge in brinkmanship with verbal balderdash.

    3.Finally yield without a whimper.

    Deny the fact they ACTUALLY yielded, and deny they lost face.

    5.Claim they stand taller and stronger than ever.

    6.Continue more verbal balderdash until #1 again.Recommend

  • Shame, Shame and more Shame
    Mar 17, 2011 - 7:59AM

    Enough with the American PPPuppets.

    Also, enough with Kayani and the Pakistan Army for selling out to the Americans.

    I say any Pakistani official involved in issuing/authourizing a visa to Raymond Davis is guilty of TREASON.

    Also, any Pakistani official involved in releasing Raymond Davis is guilty of TREASON.

    Pakistan Zindabad.Recommend

  • Sag
    Mar 17, 2011 - 8:11AM

    Time has come for the people of Pakistan to wake up and get rid of this regime that has brought this great sham on the nation.Recommend

  • Fadi
    Mar 17, 2011 - 8:17AM

    Are we all sleeping??????

    We are paying taxes to free the so called diplomatic criminals with the long history.Recommend

  • Raza
    Mar 17, 2011 - 8:21AM

    Definitely fairytale material, but all this had been predicted. Zia’s blasphemy law, and Sharif’s Diyat law are doing a great job in pulling us down from the inside. What I am waiting for now is the article: “Raymond Ka Pakistan” by the man himself! (George must read it too) He’s got a book deal by now I’m sure. Recommend

  • Tim Davidson
    Mar 17, 2011 - 8:36AM

    As an American tax payer, I am dismayed at having to pay “blood money” to release Davis. At a time when many Americans are unemployed and struggling to make ends meet, spending valuable tax payer dollars in Pakistan is not right. Besides, we were given to understand that Pakistanis were already “bought” and “paid for” with the Kerry-Lugar bill. We feel cheated that we have to pay again…and again..and again.


  • Billoo Bhaya
    Mar 17, 2011 - 9:06AM

    In computing there is a word called WYSIWYG. It means What You See Is What You Get. This is applicable more so to our politics and society. Recommend

  • vertigo
    Mar 17, 2011 - 9:25AM

    “There may be some street protests and comments from Imran Khan trying to pin it all on the federal government. But the Zardari-Gilani duo could not have managed it as their first effort resulted in friction within the party.”

    And here is silly old me thinking the federal government is in charge. I think IK is perfectly right in holding the elected federal government responsible.

    Basically the dynamic duo has mismanaged this and most other things.

    We have to put up with these … so many unmentionable adjectives crowd my mind … these malintent incompetents until they complete their term so that they don’t get a sympathy vote at the next election.

    Lord be merciful.Recommend

  • Mirza
    Mar 17, 2011 - 9:33AM

    Finally Islam and Sharia has been successfully used by a rich non-Muslim. Before that it was used only against the poor minorities and for the pardon of rich Muslim killers.

    It is all fair and square and according to the “free judiciary and Sharia”. Pakistanis cannot pick and choose Sharia laws only for their own benefits. Now they know how it feels when the shoe is on the other foot!

    Mirza, USARecommend

  • Sonam Shyam
    Mar 17, 2011 - 9:46AM

    The release of Raymond Davis was always on the cards and its hardly come as a surprise in India. Well Folks, we need to understand the fact that Pakistan is a sovereign nation only when it deals with India, otherwise it is the most if I may conceive a new word, “Sellable” nation in the world. All this charade of Pakistani sovereignty and high pitched noises about Raymond Davis being a murderer, worthy of highest punishment under the Pakistani laws, was a tool of raising the stakes to unprecedented levels and to extract the maximum “Blood Money” for the Pakistani Generals and civilian elites. Now compare this with the Pakistani dealings with India. Pakistanis are religiously protecting terrorists accused of heinous crimes in India and that hall of infamy includes Dawood Ibrahim, Hafeez Saeed, Zaki ur Rehman Lakhvi, Masood Azhar, Syed Salahuddin etc. All these “Gentlemen” are protected by Pakistan and given security at Pakistani tax payer’s money, only because Pakistan is a sovereign country which can’t bow to Indian pressure. Pakistani sovereignty is India centric; otherwise any nation can throw money and get their jobs done. The bargaining in the Raymond Davis case was so brazen that it only cements the belief that Pakistan is a failed state and the army Generals are calling the shots. Cheer Up guys! The “Ghairat Brigade” has released Davis in supreme national interest of Pakistan.Recommend

  • John
    Mar 17, 2011 - 9:52AM

    Neither a fairytale nor a James bond material. Expected that he will be out, but at least I expected that the court would find his claim of self defense credible.

    Now, what exactly is the motif in the shooting. Are dead ones robbers, ISI agents or what?

    What about the family of the guy who died in automobile homicide. R. Davis did not run over him on the pavement? How could they forgive R. Davis or they just forgave without knowing the details of who killed him on the side walk?


  • sharjeel anjum
    Mar 17, 2011 - 9:57AM

    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

  • Asim+Ali
    Mar 17, 2011 - 9:57AM

    Time to focus on pressing issues
    1. Getting rid of this parliament who got elected on bogus votes and fake degrees
    2. Getting the right man for various ministries and public sector enterprises
    3. Taxing the eliteRecommend

  • RizwanTKhan
    Mar 17, 2011 - 10:00AM

    Nawaz struck a deal with Zardari hence both responsbile. Nawaz made and excuse of medical issue and both brothers flee the country and will come once the situation is under control. We know the past of Nawaz Sharif.Recommend

  • IK
    Mar 17, 2011 - 10:04AM

    question remains the same…who is responsible..Recommend

  • harkol
    Mar 17, 2011 - 11:12AM

    Makes me wonder! How much blood money will need to be paid to eliminate Hafeez Saeed and Dawood Ibrahim?

    How much ever that is, I am sure India would gladly pay it.Recommend

  • bunny
    Mar 17, 2011 - 11:22AM

    Madam whatever the results would be….as a young guy from Pakistan….I have no more beleive govt…agencies…army and all because we are sold people for our sovergnity and respect….I am heart broken like i cant never explain….I always opposed and i never believe to leave Pakistan permanently but for sure…i am thinking….My heat is broken after this incident…Recommend

  • Mar 17, 2011 - 11:23AM

    More and more complications has been created by the concerned quarters
    by issuing the statements have not similarity with existing situation.

    What says secretary of state of the united states,United States paid no money to the legal heirs of the deceased,same statement came from the American foreign secretary,
    president of the united appeared on the state department floor with such like claim,
    now on the other hand it is being said,millions has been distributed among the legal heirs of the persons killed by Raymond Devise in the broad day light in Lahore.
    It also said by the concerned quarters that green card has also been distributed ,who is true in in the matter.that is a sign of interrogation before us as a nation.

    Electronic and print media men tried their best to see the relative of the deceased but failed couldn’t approach to them because there are not available in their houses gone or taken to unknown place.

    What is going on ,not understand able.

    It has also proved that United States was not true in its stance that Raymond Devise was diplomat ,he was not, really not,he was a technical adviser of counsel,
    In the very start our foreign minister exposed the reality before the nation,he was true but what happened with,was deprived from the ministery ,
    be considered our decisions regarding the national ,matters,and think what is going to happened in the near future due to our rulers activities.Recommend

  • A
    Mar 17, 2011 - 11:40AM

    Pakistani Army, ISI and Panjab Govt. did the deal with CIA. The whole was predecide and the Govt. Federal and Provencial was aware of Before. The main role was played by the ISI, Army . Shame on whole Pakistan. shame ,shame shame.Recommend

  • Mar 17, 2011 - 11:50AM

    Snake passed through,
    and left behind a line,
    consider it and try to come to the right conclusion.Recommend

  • Mar 17, 2011 - 11:52AM

    Whole scenario is a question mark before the nation.Recommend

  • nasim+ahmed
    Mar 17, 2011 - 12:02PM

    Diyat or no Diyat,one thing is certain no Govt in Pakistan can touch an American(CIA)operative till such time we are dependent on IMF and world bank for various assistance programmes.
    We must become economically strong to tackle such issues.Long live our democratic govtRecommend

  • Mango Man
    Mar 17, 2011 - 12:04PM

    Finally, the Islamic laws and Sharia got him out! Sounds like Poetic Justice for a country claiming/demanding for Sharia!
    Get a life!Recommend

  • Eeman
    Mar 17, 2011 - 12:06PM

    The future of Pakistan-US relations and geo-political developments in the region will depend on Ramond Davis’s release? You gotta be kidding me. Recommend

  • sajjad
    Mar 17, 2011 - 12:17PM

    @sharjeel anjum:
    Who are you talk on behalf of the family? it was the heirs right to exercise that ”RIGHT” which was given to them by the law and constitution of Pakistan. the two who died were their family not yours.. so why marking hue and cry and to provoke others to kill the heirs… were their mothers from whose wombs those guys were born not yours….so dont put such provocative comments.Recommend

  • Umar
    Mar 17, 2011 - 12:46PM

    The auhtor is although a self acclaimed thinker on the startegic issues – but failed to give her readers anything new on the issue. If the purpose of the article was to initiate questions, then that anyone could do. And there is no fun of quoting other’s text messages in one’s own article. Its a sorry state of generalism.

    On the other issue, Muslims should not make fun of the laws given by Allah – as there are so many who are doing this job better than us.

    I think, the families have done a correct thing as the man would in any case have gottenout in some time.Recommend

  • peacelover
    Mar 17, 2011 - 12:50PM

    shame upon all american legislators who so forcefully try to outlaw the sharia law. here comes sharia law to rescue an american murderer. sharia is the future of america. Recommend

  • Jadoon
    Mar 17, 2011 - 12:56PM

    Why so much fuss boys? By accepting blood money, the relatives of the murdered person have not committed any crime. It was their right under the Sharia Law. Also it is not possible that Pakistan’s two dozen intelligence agencies were unaware of the CIA contractor’s activities prior to this incident. Recommend

  • sajjad
    Mar 17, 2011 - 1:03PM

    Americans were never against Sharia Law, if they were then would not have supported those countries where Sharia is the law of the land like Saudi Arab, UAE and other Muslim countries…. and if you call the the barbarism of the Taliban a sharia then my brother i will pray for you that, that barbaric sharia be imposed on would not be able to watch TV, use computer,your sister and mother would go out in veil and if without male they should be beaten by a cruel mob, if you and you father and brothers dont have a beard then beaten, if you are wearing pant shirt, you again beaten……And please change your should have been HateloverRecommend

    Mar 17, 2011 - 1:03PM

    I think people shouldn’t discuss the issue on the aspect that it is wrong or right. Because it is right as it has been done under the law of Diyat and Islam also supports it. Whoever has played the role, the point is heirs have pardoned Raymond Davis.Self respect and morality are the other aspects which the heirs ignored. Recommend

  • Twisteratti
    Mar 17, 2011 - 1:16PM

    I am not sure why most of the statements made by politicians and media writings are using the term “aquited”.
    A criminal caught red-handed was “released” on certian terms.
    Thank you Dr Siddiqa for a excellent account, using the right wordsRecommend

  • Alien
    Mar 17, 2011 - 2:07PM

    @Umar…totally agree…….just want to add that in this Islamic Republic of Pakistan the rich and powerful can get away with anything…..period.Recommend

  • Hussain Bux Mallah
    Mar 17, 2011 - 2:47PM

    let us see this piece and comments

  • Anoop
    Mar 17, 2011 - 3:26PM

    Indians time and again said Pakistan will release Davis soon, for one reason or another. How right were we!!

    Most Pakistanis thought Davis’s bad time had come and will remain. But, Indians know the Ruling elite of Pakistan than the Paksitanis themselves!Recommend

  • Aristo
    Mar 17, 2011 - 3:26PM

    The army, ISI, political, bureaucratic, judicial & religious elite wants the Status Quo as is. They are all tightly knit together on one side like a fraternity to protect it even with their blood and every body else in the nation are on the otherside. This RD case is a belssing in disguise as it has marked a clear distinction as to which powers are against the interest of the people of this country.

    The people of this nation must unite on a one point agenda and that is to eliminate the status quo before its too late as we have nothing more to lose.Recommend

  • vasan
    Mar 17, 2011 - 3:30PM

    George Fulton was a man of Ghariat. He was right to leave Beghariat country.Recommend

  • SSS
    Mar 17, 2011 - 4:03PM

    I reckon she has written this blog very quickly and left so many things to our imagination. This is not a great sign from scholars like Dr. Ayesha.Recommend

  • harkol
    Mar 17, 2011 - 4:09PM


    Countries are governed by Rule of law and a fundamental principle of equality before law. If a murder can be compensated with money then some lives become cheap enough for richer folks, thus breaking the premise of ‘equality before law’.

    Such an outcome is outrageous. Person committing a criminal offense shouldn’t be allowed scott free just because he has money. What a religion says is immaterial in this, for all lives are equal.. A poor person’s shouldn’t be dispensable with blood money.Recommend

  • saad hafeez
    Mar 17, 2011 - 4:10PM

    when will our officials stop manipulating and fooling the people of this country? we deserve to know the truth!Recommend

  • Farakh Suhail
    Mar 17, 2011 - 6:26PM

    Media of Pakistan perplexed and confused and trying to bash at the government of PPP and PML-N in center and Punjab, but then goes against the judiciary as why they freed Raymond and then bash at the establishment and then at the Americans. Some short term hooligans like Imran Khan and Jamat e Islami are trying to get something out of it, but in vain because we all know that Raymond bought his way out and the relatives of the killed ones got huge sum of money and green cards.
    So why fuss?
    Now everybody would want to get hit by an American to get some money and the green cards. What can really the courts or government do if the common Pakistan would sell his blood? But then what is other choice?
    It’s good thing to talk about dignity and self-respect and national pride in the media talkshows but its quite another for the families who lost their bread winners and were hungry. The mikes and cameras of channels were not filling their bellies. They cashed their chance and now have secured the future for their families.Recommend

  • Mar 17, 2011 - 6:43PM

    Where is Shireen Mazari and Imran Khan now? Did the “liberal elite” let Raymond Davis go? No, it was the Army and the ISI, the real power in this country that did. How is it that once the ISI-CIA talks were completed and RD was leveraged to serve the militarys interest in relation to the US, all teh leaks in the papers stopped, all the rehetoric went down, and where are those thousands of right wing protestors who shouted that they would sacrifice their children to get justice? Where are they gone now? Recommend

  • Salman
    Mar 18, 2011 - 1:05AM

    There is no secret these generals and politicians would sell their daughters for moneyRecommend

  • Mar 18, 2011 - 1:12AM

    Just my two cents on this issue:

    Being Pakistani feels disgusting right now.Recommend

  • Mar 18, 2011 - 7:14AM
  • pakpinoy
    Mar 18, 2011 - 11:36AM

    All I can say is it serves the Ghairat Brigade nation right! You continually punish the innocent with your draconian laws that allow rapists, murderers and thugs to silence their accusers with coerced payoffs for justice…what Islam refers to as “diyat” is pathetic and injustice and used against victims all the time. Now it’s back on your own heads!! Time to eat grass AND suffer shame at the same time!Recommend

  • Mohsin Sayeed
    Mar 18, 2011 - 3:05PM

    My fear is: who will be killed now to distract attention from Davis issue?Recommend

  • Alien
    Mar 19, 2011 - 11:12AM

    I dont get it, whats the fuss ????? Is it the first time that we have given in rather sold our integrity/people/freedom to Americans ? NO, it has happened many times earlier, still happening (drone attacks) and will continue to in the future also. Every one knows this, so why NOW all this……….Recommend

  • pakpinoy
    Mar 20, 2011 - 2:48AM

    You sold your freedom when you chose religion over humanity, honor and “ghairat” over humility and self-awareness, blaming and lamenting over personal responsibility and hard work, defense of a creed over defense of the weak and helpless….the list could go on and on.

    You and your countrymen spend an ungodly amount of energy, emotion and effort defending your “unworthy to be defended” ghairat because there is nothing, and I mean nothing, of real substance to have pride in, to take honor in — in the good sense of the word. Character is displayed from the inside out, not the other way around.

    One of the hardest jobs in the world right now is to be “proud to be Pakistani” — that says a whole, whole lot. Recommend

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