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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Justice in haste is... Justice in waste!

Our real masters — the Americans — must be very pleased with the work of their puppets in Pakistan. However, there are serious apprehensions that this latest shame earned for Pakistan would unleash a new wave of unrest in the country.

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The shambolic issuance of visas to Americans without any sort of background clearance was an invitation to abuse the system – which the Americans duly did. 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. 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.

Davis was a criminal of national security whose name was placed on the Exit Control List but the federal government and Punjab government compromised on national security. He was allowed to fly abroad without any problem. The news was broken to the media only after Raymond had left the soil of Pakistan. We never thought that we would be sold in this manner and so cheaply. We knew well that Nawaz Sharif had once sold Aimal Kansi to the Americans, Benazir Bhutto handed over Yousaf Ramzi to US and the ISI and Pakistan Army under Musharraf presented hundreds of Pakistanis and other nationals including the daughter of Pakistan Dr Aafia Siddiqui to US but we mistakenly thought that it might not be possible for all of them now because of the independent media and the judiciary. But they did it again to Pakistan and did it so shamelessly.

Sources said Shahbaz Sharif instructed Punjab’s Law Minister Rana Sanaullah not to officially inform the federal interior ministry about the names of four Americans who were revealed by Raymond Davis on the first day of investigation, so they could not be put on the Exit Control List and thus could leave Pakistan easily. Rana Sanaullah did the same and later he had to admit that he had made a mistake. According to reports, the freed CIA contractor was whisked away to Kabul within hours in a special US government aircraft, which had been parked at the Lahore Airport since Tuesday evening. In another mystifying twist, a report in the US media has claimed within hours that the blood money of about US$2.3m was actually paid out by the Pakistan government on the understanding that the US would ‘reimburse the amount later at an opportune moment’.

Interestingly, the court did not hear arguments of lawyers from any side and quickly framed charges against him and passed the order. After the judge concluded proceedings of the jail trial, the representatives of US embassy and consulate, and members of victims’ family along with their new counsels left the Kot Lakhpat Jail in a convoy of around six vehicles with black tainted windows.

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The Raymond Davis case was not a mere case of Diyat but “Fasad-fil-Arz” (unrest on earth) and terrorism but the federal and provincial governments surrendered the dignity of the nation by not sustaining the pressures of the Americans. Diyat should have come at very later stage because killing was a smaller crime than spying and spreading distress in the country. In view of an earlier court judgment Islamic law of Diyat is not applicable in the offences that fall under the expression of “Fasad-fil-Arz”. Additionally, Davis involvement in spying business was a crime against state, this point was altogether ignored by the federal and provincial governments. Although, it is for the religious scholars and jurists to ponder if Raymond’s case falls in the category of “Fasad-fil-Arz” or it was a routine “murder” invoking the provision of Diyat, this very aspect was not discussed by the Lahore sessions court. The Punjab prosecution also did not raise this aspect of this strange outcome of the Raymond case.

There has not been any clear statement from the government as to whether or not Davis had diplomatic immunity; and the ambiguity that now hangs in the air leaves the door open for similar opaque arrangements to that which allowed him in here in the first place. Then there is sovereignty. Raft of questions remains unanswered.

  • First, who was responsible for the release?
  • Second, what were the concessions made on both sides of the table to facilitate the release?
  • Is our sovereignty so compromised that it is within the rules of engagement for CIA stringers such as Davis that they are permitted to carry and discharge weapons in the street?
  • To go equipped with the impedimenta of espionage unchallenged?

When the state did not become a party to other allegations against Raymond then who else could become a custodian of the country’s interests. 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. Federal and provincial governments are in debt of foreign loans so they could not resist the international pressure in an important case in which the government should have taken a stand. Had this incident happened between, say, China and America or even India and America, the result may have been different. Unfortunately, you don’t bite the hand that feeds you !

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