By Anwaar Hussain
Everybody loves Raymond, the double slayer. Davis being helped to police vehicle in Lahore.
The Pakistani Government ‘loves’ him to the extent that they are willing to bend the rules to grant him diplomatic immunity from prosecution for the twin killings that he committed in Lahore. They ‘love’ him for the large one-time dose of Manna, over and above the routine dosage, that is likely to fly into their coffers from the Grand Masters for the deal.
The US of A ‘loves’ him to the extent that no less than the President of United States wants him released, and pronto too. The lesser minions of America, of course, blow hot and cold threatening to cut off all aid and bring to an abrupt halt the so called ‘strategic alliance’ that the two countries have. They ‘love’ him so much in fact that all drone attacks in FATA have been ceased lest a single hair on Raymond’s well-fed body is harmed in retaliation.
The Punjab Government, in whose domain the crimes took place and who now hold Raymond, ‘loves’ him because he gives them a handle with which to embarrass deeply, and irreparably if it so chooses, the central government –their political opponent. They want the country’s ‘law’ to take its course and the criminal duly prosecuted.
The religious parties ‘love’ him because they have at last found a cause with which to rally the naive masses around. They will now beat their chests in sympathy with the heirs of the victims, organize mass protests, foam at their mouths at the spinelessness that the Pakistani Government shows in every confrontation with the ‘Great Satan’, invoke Islam at every mass gathering and remind people that their version of Islam is the only solution to all evils plaguing the country.
The sacked Foreign Minister of Pakistan, a Makhdoom whose principle vocation is to sell charms and amulets to simple villagers, ‘loves’ Raymond because it was due to him that the Makhdoom has overnight turned into a hero. He has supposedly withstood the pressure of the great US of A by not agreeing to a diplomatic immunity for Raymond, getting fired from his job instead.
All the opposition political parties ‘love’ him because Raymond gives a lease of life to their flagging existence. They can now create further chaos in a nation already deeply splintered along ethnic, sectarian and political fault lines. They see a chance of quietly slipping into corridors of power in the ensuing bedlam. They ‘love’ him for giving them a case that has the rare potential of solidifying the Pakistani nation into a single, unified front against ‘brazen American recklessness’.
The gullible Pakistanis ‘love’ Raymond not only because they have been told to do so but also because his issue all of a sudden reminds them of their ‘love’ for the rule of law. They ‘love’ him to the extent that they are willing to forget and rally around the same leaders who have historically held the rule of law in Pakistan in utmost contempt. It makes them conveniently overlook that the very Pakistani leaders calling Americans to respect Pakistan’s laws are the same people who organized mob attacks on the Supreme Court and even had the Chief Justice of Pakistan manhandled by lowly police constables.
And that bunch of lovelies, the Pakistani Taliban, ‘love’ him for a very simple and straightforward reason. They want him released into their custody so that they could do another Daniel Pearl on him. Call it love for love’s sake.
While all this love wingding goes on, let us have a quick look at the controversy itself.
America’s stand point is simple: one of its diplomats in one of the ‘most dangerous’ countries in the world was threatened by two men with guns, and the diplomat shot and killed them in self-defense. He sits in jail, “illegally detained,” because he enjoys diplomatic immunity.
Their Pakistani counterparts, however, tell an entirely different story.
They say that not only Raymond Davis does not enjoy diplomatic immunity, the matter is far murkier than what meets the eye. Talking with ABC News on the condition of anonymity, four Pakistani officials have claimed that the two men who Raymond Davis killed in Lahore last month were working for Pakistan’s premiere intelligence service, the ISI. They were following Davis because he was spying. According to these officials, the ISI believed he had crossed “a red line” and needed to be followed.
Between these two diametrically opposing views, journalists, bloggers, media pundits and Charlie’s aunt continue to paint theories with varying shades. While some saner elements want to wait for the smoke to clear away before taking a stance on the issue, most have already announced America’s grand alliance with the Pakistani Taliban/Al-Qaeda with the sole aim of destabilizing the country. They don’t, of course, explain why the US would continue to pump billions of dollars into the country’s treasury on the one hand while conspiring to sink her on the other.
Be that as it may, while everyone else’s sudden rush of love for Raymond is understandable, America’s feverish urgency in their demands for the release of their new found love, a low level operative really, is not.
It is not understandable why seasoned American diplomats would suddenly drop all decorum of hushed and enduring diplomacy. Why would normally dignified US officials suddenly become bulls in a china shop, all muscles, horns and hind quarters, threatening to bring down the whole painstakingly erected edifice if their man is not released. Pray, what sensitivities are involved that have forced the weathered US envoys to replace tact and discretion with threat and bombast? And even if Raymond had diplomatic immunity, why can’t it be waived for the sake of 60 years old partnership? The Americans are, after all, convinced that their man is innocent. No one knows at this point.
So yes, everybody loves Raymond. But the mother of everybody in Pakistan, the Pakistan Army, watches the fracas quietly from the sidelines. For now at least.