Losing Battle of Hearts & Minds: The Case of Raymond Allen Davis & Poor American Response

Imagine the following account:

A Pakistani man shoots dead two Americans on a busy strip using an unlicensed weapon, and then another Pakistani colleague radioed by the shooter runs over a third American. Then all three try to feel the scene but are overpowered by the police and turned in.

The Pakistani man is found to have entered America on a business visa, claims to police that he was a “consultant” to the Pakistani Consulate, but the Pakistani government swiftly changes documentation at the Embassy to include him as an employee, to provide him legal immunity.

The Pakistani government then brings great pressure on America to “follow the Vienna Conventions” and to release the man, including statements from the Prime Minister & President.

——————

Scene from la-la land? Precisely. It’s hard to imagine that any citizen from any part of the world, let alone from Pakistan, could wreak havoc on a shopping strip in America and get away without consequence.

Such is the hypocrisy of American pressure on Pakistan (threats about aidby Obamato Ambassador) to release the now notorious, Raymond Allen Davis, the businessman-turned-consultant-turned-consular staffer-turned-embassy staffer. The American government wants Pakistan to comply with its own convenient interpretations of the Vienna Conventions for diplomatic immunity.

Like this?
Get more of our great articles.

What Happened?

For those unaware of the situation, it is exactly as described at the top, except with roles reversed. On Jan 27, 2011, Raymond Davis shot dead two Pakistanis on a motorcycle in broad daylight on a busy shopping strip. The egregious incident led to three direct deaths and one indirect one when the widow of one of the shooting victims committed suicide due to her sense of hopelessness in a just trial.

Instead of letting Pakistani courts evaluate the legal ramifications of the situation and the extension of Vienna Conventions to Raymond, the entire US government apparatus including President Obama is bearing great pressure on their feeble stooges in the Pakistani government to release Davis without any consequence for his killing spree. By prejudicing a legal case with political expediency, Mr. Obama is further damaging his reputation in the Muslim world, and pretty much hammering the final nail in the coffin of the great optimism in his Egypt address to the Muslim world.

Window into the Vienna Conventions

As for the Vienna Conventions, the emphasis on the distinction between consular and embassy staff is not trivial. There is also little doubt that Davis was only placed in the Embassy rolls AFTER the incident.

Davis was not one of the embassy employees listed on January 25, 2010, two days before the incident However, a revised list submitted a day after the incident on Jan 28 carried his name.

So, there are two Conventions in play here. One is the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic Relations (1961, adopted 1964) and the other being Vienna Conventions on Consular Relations (1963, adopted 1967).

Article 29 of the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic Relations states that

the person of a diplomatic agent shall be inviolable. He shall not be liable to any form of arrest or detention.

The United States would like to see him being treated as a diplomat (linked to the Embassy), with extremely expansive and broad immunity, and not liable to any form of arrest.

On the other hand, consular staffers have much more limited immunity, as under Article 41 (1) of the Vienna Conventions on Consular Relations which 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

There is little doubt that the case is extremely grave and Davis would face a competent judicial authority as applied under this scenario, which makes it understandable that records are being modified (sloppily) to apply Article 29 rather than Article 41.

Which Convention is appropriate?

Let’s see what a couple of experts have been saying. In order to be treated as a diplomat, it is more than just being a staffer at the Embassy. Najmuddin Shaikh, a former Pakistan diplomat and Ambassador, concludes that Davis would have immunity under Article 29 “only if it was established that his presence in Mozang Chowrangi on that day was in ‘execution of his duties’ and that was something that had to be determined by a court of law.”

Similarly, former British Ambassador and Human Rights Activist Craig Murray concludes that the circumstances surrounding Davis do not allow for diplomatic immunity.

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Agent Twist

Which Vienna Conventions might apply is likely to be only an academic exercise. More than two weeks ago, the Guardian reported that Raymond is in fact a CIA agent. Once that fact is realized, all the pieces of the puzzle fall nicely into place. There was a reason for the sudden rush to classify Raymond as a Consulate staffer, and then realizing the Vienna issue, there was another mad rush to classify Davis as an Embassy staffer. All done to protect Davis’ real identity as a CIA agent, which of course makes the entire issue of diplomatic protection a moot point, as the Guardian hints:

Based on interviews in the US and Pakistan, the Guardian can confirm that the 36-year-old former special forces soldier is employed by the CIA. “It’s beyond a shadow of a doubt,” said a senior Pakistani intelligence official.

Also, from the same article, we find that unsurprisingly, the US stooges in the Pakistani government were fully aware of Davis’ CIA status but were complying with “immense pressure” of American directives to circumvent the entire justice system of Pakistan via the Vienna Conventions.

“Immense pressure” is probably being kind to Pakistani government. What is even more unfortunate is the acquiescence of the US media (including the New York Times) to yield to government requests and hide the information from the American public. By continuing to flout it as a case of Pakistan not complying with international conventions, Pakistan again became the whipping boy in the US media, with continuing negative implications for its public image.

A number of US media outlets learned about Davis’s CIA role but have kept it under wraps at the request of the Obama administration. A Colorado television station, 9NEWS, made a connection… [but] removed the CIA reference from its website at the request of the US government. [Guardian]

Aftermath

Writing for CounterPunch, the journalist Dave Lindorff has written

“in other words, the prosecutorial, police and judicial authorities in Lahore and the state of Punjab are doing exactly what they are supposed to do in holding Davis on murder charges, pending a judicial determination concerning whether or not he can properly claim diplomatic immunity. The US claim that Pakistan is violating the convention is simply nonsense.”

In a strange twist, the US government has also been actively seeking an Islamic shariah-based approach of offering blood-money (diya) to seek Davis’ release! This is especially ironic in light of the laughable and Islamophobic attempts by several states to ban “shariah law”.   Under the principles of Qisas, blood money would be an option, only if the relatives of those murdered accept to forgive the murderer, but cannot be FORCED to forgive. The ruling emanates from the Qur’anic verse [2.178] that is a clear evidence of Islam’s emphasis of mercy and life over punishment and death.

In conclusion, Davis needs to be tried by the Pakistani courts. If he escapes prosecution, then there would be no bigger travesty of justice, comparable only to the travesty of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui’s prosecution (persecution) and conviction.  I dare say Davis has a better chance of getting a fair trial in Pakistan than did Siddiqui in a New York court. While Aafia was sentenced to 86 years in prison for the ATTEMPTED murder of US interrogators in Afghanistan (in the complete absence of any forensic evidence), we have here a killer identified by witnesses that America wants freed under the pretext of conventions it itself routinely flouts as Glenn Greenwald cites. From the same linked article, I’ll leave you with more food for thought from Greenwald, one of the few defenders of truth in the American media:

Those crazy, primitive Pakistanis and their inscrutable Muslim customs.  Scandals over diplomatic immunity are usually one-time, aberrational occurrences…  But what happened in Lahore is part of an ongoing, continuous assault by American forces in that region.  They [Pakistanis] (but not we) hear routinely about the killing of their innocent civilians by Americans in their country.  Why don’t we hear much about such things?  The Guardian article provides some insight: A number of US media outlets learned about Davis’s CIA role but have kept it under wraps at the request of the Obama administration.

That’s our intrepid, independent Watchdog press.  The cost of this conduct is so predictable — intense anti-American sentiment and the threats of Terrorism it produces — that a rational person would have to inquire whether that outcome is not a bug but a feature of our policy in that region.

In other words, American hypocrisy in its foreign affairs only leads to anti-Americanism, which ultimately feeds radicalism that will continue to haunt our nation.

46 / View Comments

46 responses to “Losing Battle of Hearts & Minds: The Case of Raymond Allen Davis & Poor American Response”

  1. Kashif Dilkusha says:

    Emad,

    Good insight on Davis Issue. Being lived in Pakistan, literally we laugh at US authorities statements about Davis’s status and immunity. ALHAMDULILLAH we still have people in our country who are not ready to sell their GHAIRAT for some Dollars so the relatives of the innocents victims are fighting in the court for the justice.

  2. Ali Akbar Khan says:

    Yes indeed. Our GHAIRAT is not sold in spite of Dr Shazia Khlaid of Balochistan, Mukhtaran Mai and Aasia Bibi. It is not sold when acts of terrorism abroad are traced back to madrasas in Pakistan. It is not sold when 2 ministers are killed in 4 months. It is only sold if we ever release Raymond Davis …

    • Amad says:

      “ghayrat” or honor is not a zero sum game. We have to be offended and concerned with every incident of injustice. We cannot conflate issues in order to de-emphasize one over the other.

      Also it’s human nature that “others”, an American in this case, will raise more spirit than a homegrown incident. This is similar to what I discussed in the case of Jared Lougner and cognitive dissonance, just in reverse.

  3. Ameera Khan says:

    This was spot on, Br Amad… you’ve summed it all up just as the facts are at the moment. Yes, there’s intense Anti-Americanism here right now and it’s no fault of the Pakistani’s that they feel this way. The ordinary man on the street isn’t fussed with the technicalities anyway – for him, it is sufficient that Americans can shed blood on Pakistani streets and then fly away to safety… not much different from the drone attacks that happen routinely in another part of the country.

    The sad bit is, it doesn’t seem anyone in the American government understands how stupid they’ve been over this. From the congressmen involved in the Orange County incident, to Hilary Clinton, Kerry and the rest of the lot… they keep making mistake after mistake and then expect the world to be a safer place.

    • Amad says:

      CIA has been acting with immunity for some time in Pakistan and even other nations. They just got sloppy this time and caught red-handed. I think Raymond had watched a few too many Bourne identity and Bond movies and thought he was still in Hollywood.

      Even more outrageous than the guys shooting was his comrades running over an innocent bystander!

      • Ameera Khan says:

        Exactly… it’s a case of being caught out rather than a one-time incident. But then, the murky details of how the two governments conduct their dealings, are just too difficult to decipher…

  4. Kashif Dilkusha says:

    Brother,

    Who says we should not feel bad about any injustice but does that mean we should promote injustice as in case of Davis?

    On one side you are expressing grief on mentioned cases in your comment and at the same time you want injustice to promote in Pakistan?

    Interestingly you did not mention Dr. Afia’s case in your comment? Any specific reason for that.

  5. Amad
    Assalamu’Alaikum:

    Great article. One thing I admire is the fact that the US government is all out to defend its own. All actions by Raymond were in the “interest of national security” and so he is being defended. Were it the theoretical case you described at the beginning of your article we (Pakistan) would have abandoned our soldier to the “altar of justice”.

    While many consider the fact that the courts will do justice and try the case on its merits rather than under pressure of Uncle Sam, I unfortunately am not hopeful. Our judiciary is free and fair as long as the bid is right.

    -Aly

    ____________________________________________________________
    The DiscoMaulvi Page : http://www.facebook.com/DiscoMaulvi
    DiscoMaulvi on Twitter : http://www.twitter.com/DiscoMaulvi
    DiscoMaulvi’s Blog : http://discomaulvi.wordpress.com/

    • Brother says:

      I agree that is quite admirable of the US to do its best to defend their own in such circumstances. Can’t say that about Pakistan though, they just talk big to keep their public at bay but are quietly submissive.

  6. Hassan says:

    Good summary. Few thoughts:

    1. From American perspective (diplomacy or whatever), this was huge blunder by Obama administration. They played their cards too soon, when the emotions were high, and that did not work, now they have nothing on table.

    2. Ever since Raymond capture, the drone attacks are gone to 0, suicide/terrorist attacks on general public are 0. Although targeted assassinations are increased of minorities (I do not know if this is related).

    3. The shariah haters in USA (Sean Hanity etc), almost non-stop talk against shariah, someone should call and tell them, look, America itself want Raymond back on shariah bases.

    4. One of the widow of assassinated committed suicide soon afterward, can you put more details on what happened in your post. I also heard some foreigners came into their house and threatened to settle case or else…, I also heard with lots of pressure, members of one killed pakistani person has agreed to settle, going to get green card etc.

    5. In general, Obama’s tenure in office has been toughest that I know of. Huge economic crisis, two unfinished wars, diplomatic failures (wikileaks etc), this incident, uprise in middle east etc. Its not easy to be American president now.

    6. Finally, would it be acceptable to Pakistanis and Americans, if Raymond Davis is swapped with Afia Siddiqui?

    • Amad says:

      2)- that is interesting… i wonder why… its not like stopping it now will really change anyone’s opinion and such start and stop for PR is even more bad for PR.

      4)-it is in the post, and the picture is of the lady who committed suicide.

      5)- Economic crisis was really not his problem. In fact, from a pure macroeconomic perspective, there is nothing more than you can do, from a fiscal or monetary policies

      6)- It isn’t really a fair trade (an innocent victim of American justice with a caught-red-handed murderer) but I think for the amount of hardship that Aafia has borne, anything to free her!

  7. Bilal Saeed says:

    Without a shadow of a doubt this man will walk free. Not much to discuss really since there is an American involved and Mr 95% ( i added another 5% because of small service charge on foreign bribes). Lets see how long this news carries on in the media before the usual “al-qaida/taliban/iran/islam is a threat” headline kicks in again to brush this matter under the proverbial carpet.

    Always amazing to see how American government brings out international laws when their own back is exposed and those same laws go out of the window when someone else like Dr Aafia Siddiqi is inhumanly sentenced over a conspired story.

  8. Saba says:

    Wow I did not know they tried to invoke the sharia law and pay blood money. That is so …I am a at a loss of words for it.

    Jazakallahu khayir for the info Bro. Amad!

  9. waleed ahmed says:

    this guy should star in the next installment of Bourne Identity :)

  10. Muslima says:

    Similar claim by a non muslim – Our Man in Pakistan – by Stephen Lendman
    http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2011/03/our-man-in-pakistan.html

  11. Umar says:

    Blood money? Wow… 24/7 we hear how America hates shariah and now they seriously plan on using it to their advantage!?

    Why not give an 86 year sentence, as they did with Aafia. 86 simply for the intent of murder. Maybe another 500 for the murders actually committed.

    But seriously if the murder was committed in Pakistan on Pakistanis does it not make sense that he is tried in Pakistani courts? Why do America even want him back?

    • Umar says:

      Kind of random, but it reminds me of the story of Yusuf, when Binyamin was caught in Egypt stealing, and was given the punishment of the Egyption lands. He didn’t have control over what ruling would apply for the crime committed.

      Isn’t it exactly the same situation with this Raymond guy?

  12. Mary says:

    I am a Christian American. I am appalled and disgusted by the way our government behaves and wonder if anyone in a position of authority has any idea how many of these private contractors working for the CIA are operating around the globe. I also wonder how many of their operations are actually sanctioned? Dr. Aafia should be returned home – there is no evidence that she was actually involved in any “terrorist” activity, but only that she pointed a gun at a hapless Marine when she was detained. Raymond Allen Davis and his ilk run about like cowboys, creating chaos for the Wartime Racket, spilling the blood of foreigners and their family’s for oil, diamonds, coltan, uranium, sapphires….and in some instances, for the opportunity to trade in the human beings themselves. The so-called War on Terror is as real as the War on Drugs. What Americans, common and ordinary Americans like me, are beginning to see is that the War on Terror is against Muslims, Americans, Chinese, Africans etc.etc., anyone who doesn’t agree with the plan for expansion of our empire to satisfy the whims and fancies of sociopathic elitists who long ago lost touch with reality and humanity. Raymond Allen Davis murdered two Pakistani’s; ISI Agents. Raymond Davis called for help from his comrades, who then ran over an innocent bystander. These four had been stopped on December 9, 2009, when they tried to enter a restricted area that would take them to the terrorist training camps. The US Consulates Office bailed them out then, too.

    I resent the fact that these things are done in the name of America and Americans, just as I resent the USAID logo saying, “From The American People” – as if I condone, endorse and support their treachery, deceit, cowardice and globalist objectives. The Pakistani government needs to put on their big boy/girl underpants and try Davis in the Pakistani court. The Pakistani people deserve that much. Raymond Allen Davis deserves that, too.

    • Amad says:

      Good thoughts. Thanks for chiming in. Agreed, the Pakistani govt is even more appalling than the American one in this situation.

  13. Brother says:

    OK, what happened to the story where Mr. Davis said that these two individuals were going to rob him at gun point and he simply defended himself.

    • Amad says:

      This was refuted by the police investigation in that the self-defense claim could not be justified based on the evidence available. But this is another thing that will be sorted out in the courts, hence the importance of legal arguments.

      • Humble Muslim says:

        Salam

        Ok sorry to be a discerning voice here… Islamically, the most important thing is not what the US government are doing, but whether this guy gets real justice. None of us can possibly judge this guy without understanding exactly what happened. All of us who come from or know about Pakistan appreciate the danger of strangers approaching you. I am very paranoid about this, when I go to Pakistan, if anyone comes near me even at an airport, I scream and shout and tell them to get lost. There ARE robbers in Pakistan, and some really nasty ones. If this guy was defending himself – and none of us know if he was – then Islamically, he must be released. it is VERY VERY much against the Quran, and the Suuanh, and some individual episodes from the seerah to judge anyone without knowing the facts, whether he is Pakistani, American, Christian, Muslims, Jewish, Pagan, or even Martian. There is so much in Islam about justice, we can’t ignore it out of emotion.

        Now for the ‘Pakistani’ side of things… there is NO justice in Pakistan. If this guy is guilty, and the more influential party (whoever that may be) wants him cleared, he will be cleared, regardless of evidence. If this guy is innocent, and the more influential party wants him to be found guilty, he will be found guilty, regardless of evidence. This is how things works in Pakistan, and anyone who wants to argue about this is either naive, ignorant, or just plain foolish (or all of the above).

        Side not on the Islamic viewpoint – Islamically, if this guy has been spying on muslims, then he should be tried for that and treated as necessary. Of course, since the Pakistani government has been allowing the USA to spy, then trying this guy alone would be hypocritical. Anyone in the Pakistan government who has aided and abetted foreign spies is just as guilty.

  14. wade says:

    this is crazy

  15. If this terrorist is released, my respect for the Pakistani government is going from 0 to -10.

  16. tatweet says:

    Dear Amad
    I dont know what country you live in, but certain religious parties are trying to use the excuse of raymond to increase their hold on the pakistani government. The pakistanis, are muslims, and want dignity without doubt. The parties or groups that are leading this anti america battle do not represent the people, and have always been the allies of the Pro American Dictators or party to the increase in american influence in pakistan.
    People forget so lets recall from the recent past
    1) the MMA the party headed by Maulnan Fazulrrahmna, and the Jamat Islami – voted to legetimize musharraf as the legal president of pakistan – they wshared power with him
    2) The jamat e Islami, was part of the Zia governmnet and eating out of the american hands to support the “Jihad” in Afghanistan (ofcourse that was good america)
    3) The jammat Islami waas a bulwark against the Godless regiemes of Russia and China, of course whihc inderectly helped the USA at that tiem and therefore these parties enjoyed the luxury of US favors.
    3) The sons of the Amirs of the Jammat Islami are US nationals, working in lucrative jobs in the USA. One of the ex Amir of JI got his medical treatmetn in the USA

    So when did their attitude towards america change. These people are the supporters of the national burgoise against their own people, and will oppose all popularly elected governments, while supporting dictatorships

    As muslims, all pakistani’s feel the same way, and that is why these parties get the chance ot raise emotions and rally people to agitiate, but whenever they get the chance they are the biggest hypocrites. Maulana Fazulurrahman was in the NWFP govt for so many year, the jammat has been supporting musharaf and zia – americas eloved dicators for years and so on

    The only message to these “muslims” the people of pakistan are smart that is why they dont vote for you. Yes you can raise issues by appealing to thier emotions flsely – but i doubt you will suceed.

  17. Omar says:

    This Davis case illustrates US political shenanigans at their finest. But then again, what would the US do? Publicize that this guy is CIA and leave him?

    The bigger problem is Pakistan’s internal unrest and almost monthly bombings or assassinations. It results in far more deaths, fear and chaos. It also tarnishes the country’s image before the public, almost “justifying” any military drone strikes, and CIA spies to the American public.

    • Humble Muslim says:

      Salam

      Another humiliating day for Pakistan. Not very surprising, 99% of Pakistanis would have taken the money. I don’t blame the Pakistani government, they simply reflect the mentality of the average Pakistani. Of course tomorrow everyone will be on the streets screaming and shouting and blaming the government, and none of these protestors will bother to look inside their own hearts and take a critical look at themselves. Muslims in Pakistan are supposed to worship Allah, but they actually worship money. I thank Allah that He took my parents out of Pakistan 50 years ago, or I would probably be the same.

      • Hassan says:

        Actually according to jang newspaper, family members were forced to sign forgiveness document on gun point.

      • Me says:

        I couldn’t agree more but remember it’s not only Muslims in Pakistan that worship money, it’s Muslims around the world. That’s why the ummah is so weak today. Also we do not have true Muslim leaders..

        • Humble Muslim says:

          The leaders are as the people.

        • Lai says:

          Salaam,
          “I couldn’t agree more but remember it’s not only Muslims in Pakistan that worship money, it’s Muslims around the world”

          I beg to differ, please do not count me in the group of “worshipping money muslims”.
          We do not know the conditions these families were put through nor do we know the truth behind this murderer’s release. Being judgemental, does not mean it’s the truth.

      • Me says:

        We have to remember to not blame the US for doing everything in their power to free their citizen, the blame is the Pakistani government.

  18. Humble Muslim says:

    Salam

    Subhanallah, one day after getting him freed, US Drones murder 20 civilians. What the hell is going on? And let’s not forget, the Pakistani government are the ones letting them do this.

  19. Umar says:

    Altaf Hussein (Mqm): if America paid $2.3 million for the release of Davis, we will pay $23 million for the release of Aafia.

  20. Humble Muslim says:

    Salam

    Let’s remember exactly who Altaf Hussain is.

    • Umar says:

      My knowledge on him is superficial. The point was to show that Pakistani politicians do want to see some justice.

  21. Humble Muslim says:

    Put it this way. Altaf Hussain cannot come to Pakistan (he lives in the UK) because if he does, a lot of people wil be demanding justice from him.

  22. Lasantha Pethiyagoda says:

    Whatever has been written with various snippets of knowledge and emotions of the different contributors, there is a certain way in which events have always been orchestrated. Therefore, we find the White American Raymond Davis who murdered two Pakistani civilians by shooting them in the back on a busy street (immensely cheaper lives than precious American ones) back home safe(and free?) while the noble Dr Aafia Siddiqui, (distinguished US intellectual who had served dyslexic American children free of charge) who was cleared of terrorism charges or links with Al Qaeda by a US court, is languishing in a US jail for ‘attempted murder’ of up to six American soldiers and an FBI agent in Ghazni while she had been shot in the abdomen by her ”victims’ during the so-called offence she committed. How’s that for justice? Is the price of a living legend not greater than a hired thug and mercenary who provided the co-ordinates to pilots in the safety of their US offices for unmanned drone attacks in Pakistan, who had contacts with various nefarious elements? I believe that Dr Siddiqui is immeasurably more precious than Davis.

    Lasantha Pethiyagoda

  23. Ali Akbar Khan says:

    It is really sad that none of Qaid-E-Azam Jinnah’s direct decendants chose to live in Pakistan. Jinnah had only 1 issue, i.e. Dinah, who married a Zoroastrian and settled in Mumbai. Her children became business magnates in India. Perhaps Pakistan should mobilize the ISI to kidnap Jinnah’s descendants, bring them over to Pakistan, and convert them to Islam. Why should Jinnah’s descendants live in India with Hindu and Zoroastrian idolaters? Bring them back to Pakistan and let them rule over this great country. If they can run businesses (e.g. Bombay Dyeing) so well, they’ll do a better job of running Pakistan

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *