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Raymond Davis: fact & fiction – Najam Sethi’s Editorial

The case of Raymond Davis has outraged the imagination and sentiment of Pakistanis mainly because of a distortion of key facts by powerful sections of the Pakistani media. It has also become a vicious ping pong game between the PPP and PMLN governments, with both trying to score nationalist points regardless of the consequences for political stability and national security. Ominously, though, it has soured a troubled relationship between Pakistan and the US who claim to be “strategic partners” in the region. Let’s sift fact from fiction.

Fiction: Mr Davis “murdered” two Pakistanis. He shot them in the back, suggesting he was not threatened by them. They were not robbers. Their handguns were licensed. Fact: Two men on a motorbike, armed with unlicensed pistols, held up Mr Davis’ car. He expertly shot them through the windscreen, stepped out and took pictures of the gunmen with weapons as evidence of self-defense. Later, an autopsy report showed that four out of seven bullets had hit the gunmen in the front, confirming the threat to him. The criminals had earlier robbed two passersby of their cell phones and money.

Fiction: Mr Davis is not a diplomat because he doesn’t have a diplomatic visa or status registered with the Foreign Office. Hence he cannot claim diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Conventions. Fact: Mr Davis has a Diplomatic Passport. His visa application by the US State Department to the Pakistan Embassy in Washington DC of 11 September 2009 lists him as a Diplomat who is on “Official Business”. The US government has claimed diplomatic immunity for him. This is the norm. For example, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Spain in 1975, Haroon ur Rashid Abbasi, was granted immunity following discovery of heroin from his suitcase. Col Mohammad Hamid Pakistan’s military attaché in London in 2000, was caught having sex with a prostitute in his car in a public place. He invoked diplomatic immunity and avoided arrest. Mohammad Arshad Cheema, Pakistan’s First Secretary in Nepal, also invoked diplomatic immunity after 16kg of high inte4nsity RDX explosives were recovered from his house and he was suspected of being involved in the hijacking of Indian Airlines Flight IC-814. And so on. …

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