UPDATE: 30 APRIL 2011
Raymond Davis, an American CIA agent who shot two motorcycle gunmen in Lahore earlier this year has been released after ‘blood money’ equivalent to Rs 200 million was paid to the dead men’s families. He was sentenced to the amount of days he had already spent in jail, and also paid a fine for carrying an illegal weapon. Whether he was a diplomat or not is a mute subject.
Pakistan is beginning to demand a formal agreement with the US on intelligence sharing and joint operations, which was apparently an issue brought up by the DG ISI as early as January 06, 2010. Such a bilateral legal accord will apparently formalize the roles and responsibilities of all sides and stakeholders, and also shed light on what the common goal(s) are.
Gen David Petraeus – former Commander, Multinational Force-Iraq, former Commander CENTCOM and former Commander US-ISAF-Afghanistan – is now going to be Director CIA, a post in which New York Times seems to put him “in conflict” with Pakistan. A more important question is will Gen Petraeus continue in this new office with a uniform on, or not? Pakistan has militarized intelligence services that for one reason or the other are more efficient and more evident than civilian intelligence agencies, but the CIA has always been a civilian agency answerable to the US President – it was made to do in peacetime what OSS did in World War II. Gen Petraeus will be interfacing with the ISI primarily, and with the military as well (courtesy his and his services’ good relations with Gen Kayani and the Pakistan Armed Forces). An official and transparent security arrangement (one that preferably accounts for the goals of both sides and beneficial outcomes thereto), coupled with renewed trust brought by this rotation, can be a game-changer vis-a-vis Afghanistan in 2011-2014.
The Raymond Davis Case
The Government of Pakistan, its electronic media and its people, have been captivated by the case of one Raymond Allen Davis, an ‘American’ allegedly using a pseudonym and a ‘diplomatic passport’ to come to Pakistan and shoot two Pakistanis in Lahore in broad daylight. The incident happened apparently in self-defense, and in addition to conspiracy-prone Pakistani society, a few questions remained unanswered which led to more and more sensationalism, and concealment of important facts.
First, there should be no doubt by now that ‘Davis’ is a US DoD contractor. His name seems more of a pseudonym because of General Raymond Gilbert Davis, a US Marines General who fought in World War II and retired from the post of Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps on March 31, 1972, after more than 33 years with the Marines. There is also Raymond Davis Jr., a chemist and physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2002. This only rings a bell if one remembers the CIA Station Chief in Islamabad who got ratted out; Jonathan Banks, apparently another pseudonym, because web searches for the name yield websites related only to an American TV/film actor.
But this ‘Davis’ has served with the US Special Forces previously, and has also been a gunnery instructor. That explains how he was able to empty 7 hollow-point bullets into two Pakistanis who were allegedly going to rob him of his possessions. ‘Davis’ also calmly interacted with the police authorities who reached the area, and filmed the scene and the bodies of his victims with a mobile phone camera. Police also recovered a Glock pistol, a GPS navigation system and a mini-telescope from his possession (a complete list is shown hereunder courtesy DAWN News and Terminal X). He appealed to the authorities that he was a diplomat and enjoyed diplomatic immunity, but was taken away by the police. This goes in stark contrast to Davis’ true status as a NOC – under non-official cover – which means that if he is caught or compromised, the relevant Secretary of the US Government ought to have disavowed any and all knowledge of his actions. But the US stance shows that Davis was acting under orders of the government that would have come from either the US Embassy in Pakistan, or from the very top of the policymaking circles in the US State Department. The following is a list of items that were seized from Davis:
Later on, on January 28, 2011, it transpired that Davis’ name was put on the list of US diplomats in Pakistan (while not making it clear who put it, and who was supposed to put it), and controversy arose over whether Davis was a diplomat or not, whether he had an American diplomatic passport or not, and whether he had a Pakistani visa which stated that he was a diplomat in the country for diplomatic purposes, or not.
The United States government – most importantly, the State Department – claimed that Pakistan was unlawfully detaining an American diplomat accused of killing two Pakistanis. The State Dept also claimed that Davis was a member of the ‘technical and administrative’ staff of the US Embassy (in Islamabad, not the US Consulate in Lahore, where the incident occurred) and hence eligible for diplomatic immunity. The Foreign Office replied that only regular diplomats of the US Embassy enjoy diplomatic immunity, and additional staff of the US Embassy and Consulates do not enjoy the same privileges under the relevant portions of the Vienna Convention. Additional staff of any Embassy stationed in Pakistan cannot enjoy immunity unless and until the Government of Pakistan signs an agreement with another government in the matter – such an agreement or treaty then has to be ratified by the Pakistani legislature (the federal parliament in this case) before such privileges can be warranted and obtained by a foreigner/diplomat in Pakistan. Unfortunately for Raymond Davis, none of these conditions exist. The Pakistani President informed visiting US delegations that the matter of Raymond Davis was sub-judice, and it would be appropriate for all parties to wait for the court’s decision in this regard. Despite the fact that the rule of law must remain supreme, especially in a dwindling democracy like Pakistan, there seems to be intense pressure on different political actors to ‘tow a convenient and beneficial line’.
The Lahore High Court restrained Pakistani authorities from handing over Davis to the US, or from extraditing him. Indeed, he must be considered innocent until proven guilty, and once the law has exhausted its course, Davis’ status will become clear; he will either be incarcerated, or if found not guilty, he will be extradited to the US or handed over the US authorities. However, Interior Minister Rehman Malik confirmed that the American has a diplomatic passport and cautioned the media against “hyped” coverage that does not represent the facts, opening the doors to his possible release. Ejaz Haider argues that Malik’s statement is probably framed as such to grant Davis ex-post-facto immunity. Despite hue and cry from Pakistani citizens to hang Davis or to make an example of him, and demands from the US to release Davis, the law must take its course; otherwise nobody – Pakistani or otherwise – will respect Pakistan’s law, and Davis will be the first of many secret operatives to be caught after committing heinous murders on Pakistani soil.
One key element of this whole episode is that the traffic wardens who eventually stopped Davis – as well as his getaway car – suddenly vanished when the media caught a whiff of the issue.
Then, during his judicial remand, it was revealed by police authorities that Davis had ceased to cooperate with police authorities, and was not revealing the name(s) of his accomplices, especially the driver of the Consulate vehicle who was coming to ‘rescue’ him – and trampled over a motorcyclist in the process. What a brilliant ally Pakistan has! Despite this, the Interior Ministry placed Davis’ name along with three other Americans on the Exit Control List (ECL) – to deter his exit from Pakistan – and it is assumed that one of these is the alleged driver of the vehicle who caused the motorcyclist’s death. It is also said that Davis disclosed the ‘names’ of three of his accomplices after security agencies played recorded transcripts of communication carried out from the phones in his possession – one of them was the vehicle’s driver, whose phone (it is alleged) was also recovered from Davis.
The Pakistani government’s reluctance to free Raymond Davis is attributed to the fact that the two killed in the Lahore shooting were believed to be Pakistani intelligence operatives, not robbers or thieves. “Yes, they belonged to the security establishment… they found the activities of the American official detrimental to our national security,” disclosed a Pakistani security official on condition of anonymity.
There are also reports that covert US operatives – allegedly in collusion with senior and retired officers of the Pakistan Army – have been based in Lahore Cantonement’s sensitive Sarwar Road Colony since 2007, operating sensitive equipment and maintaining a paranoid level of vigilance over their houses. This came to public attention after many foreigners were being stopped at the entry points of Cantonement limits – Cantt. areas are off-limits to foreigners and non-Pakistanis, and some visitors to Pakistan explicitly have it written on their visas (“Valid for Lahore except Cantt areas”). Ahmad Quraishi states that this is in consonance with a long history of US operatives in Pakistan posing as diplomats; John Arso, Pickel Robin Kenneth, Lister Douglas Michael, Clen Denen, Jason Robert Steele Jr, Richard Earl, James Bill Koeen and Charlie Benzic are the names of some of the US ‘diplomats’ arrested in Pakistan over the past three years. Four of these ‘diplomats’ were caught carrying M-4 machine guns and wearing Pakhtun clothes, entering the Pakistani capital while coming from the sensitive and volatile Afghan border.
The issue of Davis, however, has raised alarms among the country’s security agencies that were already weary of issuance of visas to hundreds of Americans without proper scrutiny, reportedly upon the urge and desire of the Presidency. Davis was not the only person who was in Pakistan on special assignment in the garb of diplomacy; there were several others about whom no information is available. Not only the names of these “dubious diplomats” are missing from MoFA and Foreign Office records, but no one had any idea about their exact number either.
To add the cherry on top of the icing, it has been claimed that Davis was in contact with TTP militants from South Waziristan, as per call records from the phone recovered from Davis’ possession. So are private US contractors fuelling terrorism in Pakistan by providing monetary funds, training aids, weapons and equipment, on-site planning and deployment strategies, and operational support to terrorists and miscreants? Weren’t they supposed to ‘secretly collaborate’ with Pakistan’s security forces and intelligence services to root out militants, extremists and dangerous fundamentalists on the Pakistani side of the Durand Line? What is the ulterior motive of the US in standing up for Davis, and what shape does the US endgame for Afghanistan assume after the Davis case?
Your guess is as good as mine.