Civil unrest if Davis set free

FOR those authorities in Pakistan, who are considering succumbing to US pressure and set Mr. Raymond Davis free, are in for a shock because it has been predicted that the act will cause mass uprising. The case is under trial in Lahore High Court, which will decide whether Mr. Raymond Allen Davis (RAD) or whatever his real name is, enjoys total immunity as a diplomat and cannot be charged with murder or be incarcerated in prison. Surprisingly, the Foreign Office (FO) has asked for a three weeks’ reprieve to present evidence regarding RAD’s immunity. That appears preposterous since the accused is in custody since January 27 and the FO had all the time in the world to dig out facts. The case should be fairly simple; RAD is a contract security officer for the CIA, and FO has only to examine its correspondence to see whether he was accepted as a diplomat and was granted immunity. One of the reasons that the Pakistanis have been able to retain Davis in custody is that while he may have been travelling on a “black” diplomatic U.S. passport, not everyone who holds a diplomatic passport is afforded full diplomatic immunity.The only people afforded full diplomatic immunity are those who are on a list of diplomats officially accredited as diplomatic agents by the receiving country. The rest of the foreign employees at an embassy or a consulate in the receiving country who are not on the diplomatic list and who are not accredited as diplomatic agents under the Vienna Convention are only protected by functional immunity. This means they are only protected from prosecution related to their official duties. PPP’s Press Secretary rocked the boat, when she tried to build a case for RAD’s immunity. However, the furore created caused the Presidency to disown her Press Conference as her personal comments. Former Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s frank observations brought more pressure on the rulers. If the government is considering that by buying more time, it is vying for the opportunity of the story being buried under the rabble of more harrowing news, then perhaps they are mistaken.

When one considers the way similar periods of tension between the Pakistanis and Americans have unfolded in the past, it is not unreasonable to conclude that as this current period plays out, it could have larger consequences for RAD and for American diplomatic facilities and commercial interests in Pakistan. Unless the Pakistani government is willing and able to defuse the situation, the case could indeed provoke violent protests against the United States, and U.S. citizens and businesses in Pakistan should be prepared for this backlash. There are some US right-wing conservative nationalists and even some secular liberals who are asking: “If the United States can give CIA shooter Mir Aimal Kansi the death penalty, why can’t Pakistan do the same thing to Davis?” Over the past few years, relations between the United States and Pakistan have been very strained. This tension has been evidenced not only by public opinion but also by concrete examples. For example, in mid-December, the CIA station chief in Islamabad was forced to leave the country after his name was disclosed in a class-action lawsuit brought by relatives of civilians killed by unmanned aerial vehicle strikes in the Pakistani tribal areas. Like many parts of the developing world, civil unrest in Pakistan can quickly turn to extreme violence.

One example that must certainly be on the minds of the security personnel at the U.S. Embassy and the U.S. consulates in Pakistan is the November 1979 incident in which an enraged mob seized and destroyed the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad. While there were only two Americans killed in that incident—a Marine security guard shot as he stood on the roof of the embassy and an Army warrant officer who died when an apartment building on the embassy compound was torched—the fire that the mob set inside the building very nearly killed all the employees who had sought shelter in the embassy’s inner safe-haven area. One should also bear in mind how the Danish caricatures painting the Holy Prophet (MPBUH) in a humiliating manner had sparked civil unrest not only in Pakistan but in the entire Muslim World. RAD’s acquittal on flimsy grounds is likely to erupt in even worse uprisings, which can bring the government tumbling down. Is the Government prepared to sacrifice itself – Dailymailnews