"Might is right," is a normal perception but the mighty gets blown off when the weak stands up to the mighty for his rights; even the heavens fall. Raja Mujtaba
By Brig Asif Haroon Raja
Recent incident of an American national Raymond Allen Davis involved in cold blooded murder of two Pakistanis in Lahore has given rise to many searching questions. The situation has become all the more shady and mysterious since his name and identity are fake and so was the car plate number in which he was traveling on the day of occurrence. He was carrying a prohibited bore pistol and prohibited bullets with which he shot the two motor cyclists. He was callous in using disproportionate force. He kept firing to ensure the death of Faizan and Faheem. This kind of brazen firing is plausible only when the opponents are also firing.
The backup vehicle from Lahore US Consulate came rushing on the distress call given by Davis. In its mad rush to reach the scene in a jiffy, the SUV came the wrong way on a one-way road, drove across road divider and reached the scene within 15 minutes but in haste crushed to death a motorcyclist Ubaidur Rahman. By that time, Davis after filming the two dead bodies soaked in blood with his digital camera tried to escape but due to traffic rush and police vigilance he was apprehended. The driver of second vehicle along with four persons from the consulate managed to slip away and till this day identity of five persons have yet not been ascertained. The US Consulate has refused to hand over the accused and the SUV. The US undue interference is heightening tension. Davis interrogation may reveal some hidden facts about US covert war in Pakistan.
36-year old Davis is being described by Washington as a diplomat whereas he is not. Pakistan is being pressed to release him immediately on account of diplomatic immunity he enjoys, whereas he doesn’t enjoy immunity. The US earlier stance of showing Davis as a member of US Consulate in Lahore was modified and it now insists that he is a staff member of US Embassy in Islamabad. This change of stance has been necessitated to provide the accused greater degree of diplomatic immunity from criminal jurisdiction under Vienna Convention 1961. Our foreign office has yet to clear the mist of confusion about his real status. Even his real name is not known since the US has created confusion by stating that the accused is not Raymond Davis. It has however not intimated his real name so far which means he is an imposter.
Presidency, federal and provincial governments are taking cover behind the Lahore High Court (LHC) where Davis case is pending to avert American mounting pressure. The LHC alone cannot do much without the government clarifying certain basic facts about the accused status. The LHC has however taken the initiative to block handover of the accused to his country before completion and decision of the court and has also directed the government to place him on exit control list.
In case the Foreign Office caves in under pressure and declares him as a US Embassy member, the US will then be in a stronger position to demand his immediate extradition. It may extend an assurance that Davis will be tried in the US court. If it is proven that Davis is a consulate member, in that case Vienna Convention 1963 allows host country to try him in its own court.
The government is being pulled in diverse directions. On one side is the ever increasing US pressure to set him free immediately; on other side is the mounting public pressure not to release him. The situation has become more complicated in the wake of suicide of 18 year old Shumaila, wife of murdered Faheem. Her dying words were that she wanted justice for her slain husband. The couple had been married six months ago.
Davis is certainly a member of infamous Blackwater or a CIA agent who had been frequently visiting Pakistan illegally under a fake name, address and designation. It has now been ascertained that he runs a small private security company in Las Vegas in Colorado. As such he has nothing to do with diplomatic circle. Considering the objectionable weapon, specialized ammunition and equipment that was recovered from his vehicle which had a fake number plate and the precision with which he shot and killed the two moving motorcyclists from inside his moving car is a clear indication that he is a well trained marksman and adept in terrorism. One deceased had four bullet holes in his body and the other had three. Davis is also indirectly responsible for the death of Ubaid and Shumaila.
Items found in his car included masks, illegal 9mm glock pistol, make-up kit to change facial appearance, GPS tracker, satellite phone, telescope, five magazines, 75 bullets of prohibited bore, two cutters, two cell phones, ATM cards, first aid kit, PIA tickets, maps, all meant for espionage purposes. His digital camera had photos of several areas he snapped in Sargodha, Multan and Lahore. He was reportedly in charge of these three cities and was tasked to carryout espionage and acts of terror within his area of responsibility. His camera showed a video film as well.
Intriguing thing is his choice of photos which included photos of sensitive military installations, bridges, Ack Ack gun positions near bridges and bunkers facing Indian border. These are certainly of no interest to USA since it already is in possession of vivid details of topography and installations captured through satellites. Afghanistan is also least interested in such details but India is certainly keen to acquire information of military significance. This factor deepens the suspicion that Davis may be working for CIA and RAW to earn money from both.
His plea of self defence if taken on face value doesn’t hold water since on this very plea the Taliban in Afghanistan are fighting the occupying forces. They had picked up arms in self defence after they were hounded, persecuted and killed. As such, they should also not be dubbed as terrorists. Comparing the two examples, Davis is a much bigger terrorist since he was not fired upon and he emptied his magazine on the backs of the two victims. It was not a firefight but a one-sided attack to kill.
It is now quite clear that the main accused is a non-diplomat; hence Vienna Convention 1961 becomes invalid for a consulate staff member. Since domestic law takes precedence over international law, 1972 Act overrides 1963 Vienna Convention. 1977 anti-terrorist act is also applicable on Davis who himself has confessed that he is a consultant.
Relentless pressure is being exerted on Pakistan by Hillary Clinton, US Ambassador Cameron Munter and other officials to release Davis charged with double murder of two innocent Pakistanis. Their tone is getting shriller and threatening. Zardari’s coming state visit to Washington is in jeopardy; so is release of Close Support Fund and fresh installment under Kerry Lugar Bill. Davis is the only topic under discussion between the officials of USA and Pakistan. All other issues have been relegated to the backseat. Hillary Clinton and Cameron Munter did not chew their words in saying that if Davis is not released promptly, it would have repercussions on Pak-US relations.
Apparently there is little chance of disruption of relations unless the case is mishandled and in our eagerness to placate the US we bend our rules and let the double murderer go away scot-free without a trial. While the US may or may not get placated, the public will certainly not take it quietly. Already feeling the ripple effect of uprisings in North Africa and fed up of wrongdoings of the rulers, this callous act may ignite another long march in Pakistan and this time the caravan may not stop at Gujranwala, an industrial city of the Punjab, Pakistan.