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Cross-Post: How a Single Spy Helped Turn Pakistan Against the United States

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Cross-posted from New York Times

 MM’s Amad wrote about this two years ago his post Losing Battle of Hearts and Minds the Case of Raymond Allen Davis.  

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Published: April 9, 2013

The burly American was escorted by Pakistani policemen into a crowded interrogation room. Amid a clatter of ringing mobile phones and cross talk among the cops speaking a mishmash of Urdu, Punjabi and English, the investigator tried to decipher the facts of the case.

Raymond Davis, who was employed by the C.I.A. as a contractor, was escorted out of court after facing a judge in Lahore, January 28, 2011. Copyright 2013 The New York Times Company

Raymond Davis, who was employed by the C.I.A. as a contractor, was escorted out of court after facing a judge in Lahore, January 28, 2011. Copyright 2013 The New York Times Company

“America, you from America?”

“Yes.”

“You’re from America, and you belong to the American Embassy?”

“Yes,” the American voice said loudly above the chatter. “My passport — at the site I showed the police officer. . . . It’s somewhere. It’s lost.”

On the jumpy video footage of the interrogation, he reached beneath his checkered flannel shirt and produced a jumble of identification badges hanging around his neck. “This is an old badge. This is Islamabad.” He showed the badge to the man across the desk and then flipped to a more recent one proving his employment in the American Consulate in Lahore.

“You are working at the consulate general in Lahore?” the policeman asked.

“Yes.”

“As a . . . ?”

“I, I just work as a consultant there.”

“Consultant?” The man behind the desk paused for a moment and then shot a question in Urdu to another policeman. “And what’s the name?”

“Raymond Davis,” the officer responded.

“Raymond Davis,” the American confirmed. “Can I sit down?”

“Please do. Give you water?” the officer asked.

“Do you have a bottle? A bottle of water?” Davis asked.

Another officer in the room laughed. “You want water?” he asked. “No money, no water.”

Another policeman walked into the room and asked for an update. “Is he understanding everything? And he just killed two men?”

Hours earlier, Davis had been navigating dense traffic in Lahore, his thick frame wedged into the driver’s seat of a white Honda Civic. A city once ruled by Mughals, Sikhs and the British, Lahore is Pakistan’s cultural and intellectual capital, and for nearly a decade it had been on the fringes of America’s secret war in Pakistan. But the map of Islamic militancy inside Pakistan had been redrawn in recent years, and factions that once had little contact with one another had cemented new alliances in response to the C.I.A.’s drone campaign in the western mountains. Groups that had focused most of their energies dreaming up bloody attacks against India were now aligning themselves closer to Al Qaeda and other organizations with a thirst for global jihad. Some of these groups had deep roots in Lahore, which was why Davis and a C.I.A. team set up operations from a safe house in the city.

But now Davis was sitting in a Lahore police station, having shot two young men who approached his car on a black motorcycle, their guns drawn, at an intersection congested with cars, bicycles and rickshaws. Davis took his semiautomatic Glock pistol and shot through the windshield, shattering the glass and hitting one of the men numerous times. As the other man fled, Davis got out of his car and shot several rounds into his back.

He radioed the American Consulate for help, and within minutes a Toyota Land Cruiser was in sight, careering in the wrong direction down a one-way street. But the S.U.V. struck and killed a young Pakistani motorcyclist and then drove away. An assortment of bizarre paraphernalia was found, including a black mask, approximately 100 bullets and a piece of cloth bearing an American flag. The camera inside Davis’s car contained photos of Pakistani military installations, taken surreptitiously.

More than two years later, the Raymond Davis episode has been largely forgotten in the United States. It was immediately overshadowed by the dramatic raid months later that killed Osama bin Laden — consigned to a footnote in the doleful narrative of America’s relationship with Pakistan. But dozens of interviews conducted over several months, with government officials and intelligence officers in Pakistan and in the United States, tell a different story: that the real unraveling of the relationship was set off by the flurry of bullets Davis unleashed on the afternoon of Jan. 27, 2011, and exacerbated by a series of misguided decisions in the days and weeks that followed. In Pakistan, it is the Davis affair, more than the Bin Laden raid, that is still discussed in the country’s crowded bazaars and corridors of power.

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Hassan

    April 15, 2013 at 12:38 PM

    Hmm, if I remember correctly, the two killed by Davis were ISI people trying to see what Davis is upto. The article did not mention that

    • Gibran

      April 15, 2013 at 9:04 PM

      Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

      How do you know such a thing?

      • Hassan

        April 16, 2013 at 1:42 PM

        That is what I heard, I can go and check pakistani newspaper. But what I heard was that ISI agents were seeing what Davis is upto and he realized it and then killed them

        • Gibran

          April 16, 2013 at 4:30 PM

          Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

          It my be a conspiracy theory.

          • Hassan

            April 16, 2013 at 11:43 PM

            See me response below

    • Mansoor Ansari

      April 16, 2013 at 12:09 AM

      No they were not, they were small time crooks.

  2. Hassan

    April 16, 2013 at 11:43 PM

    http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,2047149,00.html

    “Equally misleading, say Pakistani officials, is the claim in Pakistani media that Davis’ victims had been “ordinary men”, or even as “robbers,” as the State Department has suggested. “They were from the ISI,” says a government official, referring to Pakistan’s military intelligence agency. It isn’t clear, the official says, whether they were full paid-up agents or local informants.”

    and

    “The loss of two men linked with the ISI has injured the Pakistani military’s pride, officials say, and comes amid rising tensions with Washington”

    This is definitely the standard position of Pakistani government. So I am surprised this was not mentioned. (even if it was wrong claim)

    • Gibran

      April 16, 2013 at 11:47 PM

      Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

      What reason would they have to say those two men are ISI agents? In all likelihood they weren’t. Allahu a’lam, the first cases to be judged on yawm al Qiyamah are cases of bloodshed.

    • Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

      April 17, 2013 at 12:12 AM

      They were low-level informants. If they had really been higher-level ISI agents there would have been no way Davis could have walked out. And the relations would have soured much more.

  3. Hyde

    April 29, 2013 at 10:42 PM

    What was the purpose of this article to appear on MM ? If it was to garner some sort of sympathy for the state of Pakistan, I certainly don’t think it achieved its purpose. The real problem with Pakistan was 1947 and besides turning civil courts into shariah courts shows the contempt they have for authentic Islamic practices. Islam to be used as a crutch; you can use when it best serves and dispose of it when you don’t need it. I wonder if it was the generalissimo’s family that was involved, would he be so quick to get “blood money” ? (Does the Fauj give blood money to the people it takes “care off” in Baluchistan ?) The elite all over the muslim world are the same.

  4. Angry Muslimah

    September 12, 2013 at 11:29 AM

    what about the guy who was run over? what happend to the driver? nothing right. thats normal, look at fallujah and haditha and all the countless times they have killed muslims on purpose they dont bother to reprimand their army. bradley manning told of how civilians were being killed regularly, but his co said no problem!

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