Pak-US relations in a fix

Pakistan is in a fix. And all because of a man whose diplomatic status is a mystery that has not been solved yet. The Raymond Davis case has landed both Pakistan and the US in the soup. Not only have the Americans postponed an important trilateral meeting that was supposed to take place in Washington between officials from Afghanistan, Pakistan and the US this month, they have also adopted a threatening posture vis-à-vis Pakistan. Foreign Office (FO) spokesman Abdul Basit said that the “trilateral talks will be rescheduled in due course of time. It is important the trilateral process continues. We hope whenever held, (the talks) will yield maximum results for peace and stability.” US State Department spokesman PJ Crowley also said the meeting will be rescheduled soon. This is obviously a pressure tactic by the US government, which is trying its best to get Davis free at any cost. On the other hand, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdaus Ashiq Awan said that the government will let the independent judiciary decide the Raymond Davis case as it believed in the rule of law. Former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has apparently made his party members angry by alleging that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had pressurised him to sign a summary that gave diplomatic immunity to Raymond Davis. Dr Ashiq Awan questioned his stance and asked why he had not said anything about this when he was foreign minister. Former minister for water and power, Raja Pervez Ashraf, likened Mr Qureshi to (late) Farooq Leghari and said that he was working on the agenda of anti-PPP forces. Whatever the internal dynamics of the PPP may be, Mr Qureshi’s ‘disclosure’ can become a bone of contention between the PPP government and its adversaries.

It is strange that neither the Foreign Office (FO) nor the government is willing to tell the truth about Raymond Davis’s diplomatic status. The reason why the government is hesitant in committing itself to anything could be that it does not want to give the religious right any more fodder to further destabilise the political situation. The right-wing forces have only just given up on the blasphemy campaign after Prime Minister Gilani’s assurances on several occasions that the blasphemy laws will not be changed. The Taliban have already threatened to kill any government official who facilitates the release of Mr Davis. One of the reasons the government now wants to hold an all-parties roundtable conference is to get out of the mess it has landed itself in after Raymond Davis was arrested. The present dispensation is actually reaping the ‘fruits’ of General (retd) Pervez Musharraf’s policies, who gave permission to the Americans to do as they please on our soil. The surreptitious and illegal presence of many CIA spooks and private security contractors is nothing new. It all began during Musharraf’s regime. It is not the first time that such incidents have taken place in Pakistan even though Raymond Davis’s one was a more serious one.

The US should understand that Pakistan is its frontline ally in the war on terror and not its enemy. Instead of going public with its rigid stance, the US should present the facts to the FO and if Mr Davis enjoys a diplomat’s status, he would obviously be set free. Being arrogant will not help the US, instead it will only increase the anti-American sentiment in Pakistan. As for the postponement of the trilateral meeting, the US is giving the Taliban a fresh lease of life, which could prove to be dangerous for the whole world. It is time to think and act rationally, both by the US and Pakistan.

(my editorial in Daily Times)


Said said…
" Instead of going public with its rigid stance, the US should present the facts to the FO and if Mr Davis enjoys a diplomat’s status, he would obviously be set free"

Wait, why would he be set free? Why would you even say that?! Why would you endorse freeing anyone who has committed double homocide just because he holds a piece of paper that says diplomat? Just because someone is a diplomat does not mean he can be set free from committing two murders without a full and impartial judicial inquiry, even the Vienna treaty backs this COMMON-SENSE thinking.

Section II, Article 41 of the treaty, in its first paragraph regarding the “Personal inviolability of consular officers,” states:

“Consular officers shall not be liable to arrest or detention pending trial, except in the case of a grave crime and pursuant to a decision by the competent judicial authority.”

I hope this puts to rest any speculations that Davis deserves impunity from a judicial inquiry. I hope he gets a free and fair trial - and that's what everyone should be pushing for instead of talking about freeing him. There should be no talk of that.

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