The issue of Raymond Davis seems to have triggered the process of rewriting jobs specifications of a diplomat, particularly the one who comes from across the Atlantic Ocean and finds himself posted in places like Pakistan. A diplomat now does not need to be a member of the Foreign Service; he needs to have other skills like sharp shooting. His gun should be able to talk convincingly in the country of his accreditation. Since Mr Davis has proved his credentials, he has endeared himself in the eyes of even the most powerful president of the world.
It was probably for this reason that President Barack Obama had to dispatch Senator John Kerry, widely perceived as Pakistan’s friend, to deliver threats to Pakistanis and educate them about the consequences of not releasing Raymond Davis. Davis killed two Pakistanis in the city of Lahore in cold blood, according to police investigations. The president has raised the stakes Tuesday in a tense standoff with Pakistan, insisting that a detained American embassy employee who killed two Pakistanis must be freed and dispatching a high-profile envoy to make the case that Pakistan has much to lose if the case drags on. Obama insisted the “simple principle” of diplomatic immunity meant that Pakistan must release the 36-year-old U.S. official, Raymond Allen Davis. Davis has been held since the shootings almost three weeks ago.
The biggest blunder being committed by the US is its refusal to understand the sensitivities of Pakistanis. The matter of Raymond Davis is no more in the courts or in the files of Pakistan’s government; it has become a public property and threats, if indeed the good senator is here to deliver, will complicate the matter further and reduce the space to take any rational decision. It will push Pakistani government to the wall and force it to take the line of its former foreign minister. According to CBS News, the Davis case has become a flashpoint for Pakistani nationalism and anti-American suspicion, making it harder for Pakistani authorities to back down despite intense U.S. pressure. Thousands have rallied to demand that Davis be hanged and the Taliban have threatened attacks against Pakistani officials involved in freeing the Virginia native. The disagreement has risked spinning out of control in recent days amid dangerous anti-American sentiment in Pakistan and U.S. threats of stronger Pakistan sanctions. Partly as a punishment, the U.S. over the weekend postponed a major security conference that was scheduled with Afghanistan and Pakistan later this month. Obama warned that Davis’ detention risked further straining relations between the countries, and said local prosecution of a diplomat posed a threat to American diplomacy in general. According to CBS News, Davis was not an ambassador, but the United States has not spelled out his duties.
Sen. John Kerry has been sent to smooth over relations with Pakistan, whose cooperation is needed to rout insurgents fighting U.S. troops across the border in Afghanistan and al-Qaida fighters hiding in remote frontier zones. Kerry reached out to Pakistan’s government, promising a U.S. criminal investigation into the shooting if Davis is released. He took a softer public stance than many in the administration, expressing regret and acknowledging that such deaths need to be examined.
“It is customary in an incident like this for our government to conduct a criminal investigation. That is our law. And I can give you the full assurance of our government today that will take place,” Kerry told reporters in the eastern city of Lahore, where the shootings occurred.
The U.S. says Davis shot in self-defense as armed men tried to rob him in Lahore last month. The Justice Department confirmed Tuesday that it would look into the shootings. There has been controversy in Pakistan over the fact that Davis was armed. A senior U.S. official has told The Associated Press that Davis was authorized by the United States to carry a weapon, but that it was a “gray area” whether Pakistani law permitted him to do so. Davis was shown on Pakistani TV telling police that he was a consultant for the U.S. consulate in Lahore and that he worked for the RAO – an apparent reference to the Americans’ Regional Affairs Office. Obama, who spoke to Pakistani President about the case last week, declined Tuesday to elaborate on what threats he laid out for Pakistan if it refuses to act. But he implied that there would be consequences.
According to CBS News, part of the confusion over Davis’ status lies in his background. The administration insists that Davis was part of the embassy’s “administrative and technical staff,” but Pakistani media reports have focused on him being a former Special Forces soldier who runs an American “protective services” company with his wife. The AP also obtained a photocopy of an ID and a salary document that Davis apparently gave Pakistani authorities, showing that he was scheduled to be paid $200,000 from Sept. 21, 2010, until Sept. 20, 2011, for “overseas protective sec. svcs.,” training, administration work and insurance and travel expenses. Davis is identified as a Defense Department contractor on the ID card. The U.S. Embassy says Davis has a diplomatic passport and a visa valid through June 2012, and that Pakistan was notified of Davis’ assignment more than a year ago. Obama didn’t delve into these nuances Tuesday, declaring Davis simply as “our diplomat in Pakistan.”
Please also read:
Voice of Sanity and Reason: Why is the US ready to sacrifice its values for Raymond Davis?
Wall Street Journal: Obama Urges Pakistan to Let Shooter Go, as Kerry Visits