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Raymond Davis Case: Justice Beyond Rhetoric


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An edited version of this piece first appeared on the Dawn Blog

While flipping through the channels the other night , I stopped at an image of a woman lying on a hospital bed, tubes stuck to her nose as she tried hard to stay conscious and speak into the camera. At first I had thought she was yet another rape victim, owing to the increased incidence of rape these days. But it did not take long to figure out that she was in fact, the widow of Faheem Ahmed, one of the two men shot dead in Lahore by Raymond Davis. Worth remembering the adage in this instance: adding fuel to the fire.

Davis, an employee (contractor) of the US government, is still under detention. The US claims that Davis’s detention is illegal according to the Vienna Convention and that he should be freed immediately. Such claims have caused much uproar in Pakistan.

In the past week following the killings, countless scenarios have been speculated from copies of Davis’s passport to cries of comparison between Aafia and Davis – much has been discussed and analysed, but of course without reaching a substantial conclusion.

While public support and mobilisation can strengthen a struggle, politicising an issue can lead to complexities rather than a concrete solution. This seems to be a common problem with us. The incident in Lahore is still being investigated while US pressure builds up. The Lahore High Court (LHC) passed clear statements that Davis will not be handed over to the US, and that a full investigation as per Pakistani laws will be carried out. Well done, I say. No one should have the right to surpass the courts’ decision. No one should be allowed to take law into their hands.

But despite reassurance from the LHC, Shumaila Kanwal committed suicide and was pronounced dead at a hospital in Faisalabad. In her last interview, Kanwal spoke of her doubts in the judicial system and the fear that her husband’s killer may never be punished. She succumbed to her doubts and ended up taking her own life. As I write this, threads have already been started on public forums, comparing her to the Tunisian fruit seller whose self-immolation sparked a revolution.

While her death should and will trigger a response from the public, it should be a response that is devoid of political agendas and hate-mongering. It should be a call for the rule of law to be upheld and justice to be served. After all, it is the hate-mongering, the conspiracy theories, the knee-jerk anti Americanism that made Kanwal believe that justice would never be served in her case.

Kanwal was not looking for justice from the US instead she was expecting her own government and the judicial system to rise to the occasion, to which they did. Regardless, her hopes were shattered by constant reminders that ‘the country has been sold to America’ and that the ‘Government is planning a safe passage for their ally’. References that Davis might be a part of a mercenary force, Blackwater or XE Services only fed her doubt.

On the part of the US, it would be exemplary if they let the Pakistani courts decide whether Davis is guilty or not. In case his guilt is proven in the courts, it would be most apt for the US to lift diplomatic immunity on ethical and moral grounds. Not only will this go well with the US-Pak relations but will be an opportunity for the US to show that they respect the law of the land.

However, these references will be repeated again, now much louder than before. Rallies will be arranged, flags and effigies will be burnt for the umpteenth time. It is evident, for those convinced that the country is being run by foreign powers, that this case is a prime example.

Incidents such as these make a very clear statement; there is a lot of bottled-up anger, concerns and insecurity amongst the masses – concerns which are cashed by religious and political parties to garner support. But what about justice? What about the real issue amid all the political rhetoric and anti-American sentiments?

If we allow ourselves to look past the fury, we may be able to make demands that will resolve issues rather than create complexities. By not allowing this case to be politicized for personal agendas, we can push for  a campaign that focuses more on getting justice- minus rhetorics. Rather than fuming at American policies let’s focus on demanding our Government to uphold the rule of law.

Somewhere in Lahore another widow is slowly losing hope for justice. Her name is Aamna Taseer.  Her case too, has fallen prey to political maneuvering. Shifting focus from the crime to political hogwash and growing extremism.

The sole reason for the comparison is to reflect how politicising certain incidents not only changes our perspective but also diverts attention from the core issue – the crime itself. In recent days, I have been asked whether I would speak up against the killings in Lahore just as vocally as I did against Salman Taseer’s assassination.

My answer is a resounding yes. May it be Qadri or Davis, justice should be served. The state and its institution should refuse to bend laws in the face of international or political pressure. This is the ultimate test.

Our job then is to ensure that the state and the judiciary refuse to kowtow to any (international or religious) pressure and pass a judgment upholding the rule of law. For I believe that no one should be allowed to take law into their hands, and I know that you do too.

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13 thoughts on “Raymond Davis Case: Justice Beyond Rhetoric”

  1. Raymond Davis seems to be inducted in Pakistan for a special task against religious fundamentals with mutual consent both US and Pakistani authorities. Now both are trying for his safe escape but court is not permitting this. Latst update on this issue is seen on following links which you should also read, please.

    http://bloggerstown.com/2011/03/08/application-resubmitted-in-supreme-court-against-raymond-davis/

    http://bloggerstown.com/2011/03/08/pakistan-supreme-court-may-indict-raymond-davis-for-murder-next-week/

  2. Undue pressure by US senator John Kerry, chairman of senate commitee for foreign affairs and an ex-president candidate, has convinced Pakistan government officials and politicians to provide forged diplomatic immunity documents to the courts in the country. American politicians don’t want Raymond Allen David to face the music for his crimes in Pakistan. They want Davis to evade justice because the court trial in Pakistan would open Pandora’s Box and set a precedent for future trials. Davis does not have diplomatic immunity. The trial would expose other American misdeeds in Pakistan and elsewhere. Pakistan courts have the right to rule on the crminal case without any fear or favour, blackmails, threats, economic sanctions and political pressures. The courts would become laughing stock if in this case they cave in. Davis may be released after his conviction only when American politicians close down all covert operations in Pakistan, stop drone attacks, write off all debts, etc. After his trial and conviction, Pakistan must expel all American members of Delta Force from the country and try their Organge Force mercenaries; seal Afghan-Pak border; and stop the American-NATO terror supply line between Pakistan and Afghanistan… Would that help stop false flags, and bring down or undo the PNAC’s American empire?

  3. If he has diplomatic immunity he can not be arrested or charged. Period. However your government can ask for waiving of the immunity to prosecute this man.

  4. Sana how can you be so naive for dreaming “it would be most apt for the US to lift diplomatic immunity on ethical and moral grounds.”

    In Vietnam, 30 years after the war, Agent Orange is still claiming victims.
    Used on a massive scale by the US army to prevent Viet Cong soldiers from hiding, this powerful herbicide permeated the ground.
    From encephalitis to congenital deformities and leukaemia, thousands of children are being born severely handicapped due to the chemical.
    The Vietnamese Red Cross estimates that there are one million victims.

    STILL NOT A WORD OF APOLOGY FROM THE US

    Wake up US is nothing else than an IMPERIALIST force bent on world domination

    Whether some religious people or politicians use antiAmerican sentiments for their own selfish purposes is another issue

    The relation between the US and Pakistan (as a matter of fact, the rest of the world) is nothing else than the relation between a slave owner and its slave

    A slave do not have the authority to give JUSTICE

  5. Speaking about myself, the day I saw this news on television, the first thing that came on my mind was nothing else but Davis will get an easy escape since he is an American. The law of this country is very powerful but the enforcement of the law is neglected always. Our Government should learn from those *Goras* they could have ignored Davis, but they are concerned about him and building pressure on Pakistani Government everyday, while our Government continues to neglect our people not only Aafia, but many of other Pakistani’s detained in suspect cases of terrorism in America.

    Shame on Pakistani Government.

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