The strange case of Raymond Davis : Updated

Rather than presenting my own opinions on this case which has gone viral and seems to be leading people on both side i.e., liberal (describing themselves as cool headed rationalists) and conservatives (described by the liberals as our media and the rest of the population that subscribes to it) into frenzy, I will present excerpts from various news items and blogs from all over the liberal-conservative spectrum and let you reach your own conclusion.

I will start with Cafe Pyala which discusses the diplomatic status of Raymond Davis’s visa as

Television analysts have almost unanimously claimed that “Davis” did not have a ‘diplomatic visa’. It might behoove someone to ask our media pundits if they have ever actually seen a Pakistani diplomatic visa. From our own investigations, it seems Pakistani visas have no such specified category of ‘Diplomatic Visa’ (unlike some other countries). In fact, according our sources, all foreign diplomats receive Pakistani visas with the marking “Purpose of Visit:” “Official” or “Official Business” (not Official / Business, another category that does not exist) on their diplomatic passports.

The above statement of the author is contradicted by one of the commentators in the same post

I think better research was required before writing this post. Pakistan visa forms issued by consulate here in NYC do have ‘diplomatic’ category.Link

The link above takes you to Pakistani consulate website in New York which shows that there is a diplomatic category of visas. However, being a Pakistani form, I should add a caveat that there is a possibility that Pakistan might have stopped issuing Diplomatic visas but the forms may not have not been updated.

Two news items have appeared in Daily Times today, the paper owned by late Salman Taseer and presently run by his widow Amna Taseer, which is known to have a liberal bias which further fuel the frenzy

Police collect more evidence against Davis

“In case he was attacked with bullets, he had necessary arrangement and tools to save his life,” an [investigating] official said on the condition of anonymity. “Davis claimed that he was coming after withdrawing money form a bank and deceased Faizan and Faheem were chasing him with the intention to rob him. However, police recovered only Rs 5,000 and $150 from him following his arrest. Hence, he [Raymond] has failed to prove that he was coming after withdrawing money form a bank,” a police security officer said. According to sources, the police has no eyewitness who could support another claim of the accused that the deceased boys had pulled a pistol at him, he said. “When Davis fired at Faizan and Faheem, they were sitting on their bike in front of his car with their backs towards Davis, which meant that they were not in an attacking position and the claim of self-defence is false,” he added.

LHC moved against ‘flawed’ police investigation in Davis’ case

Counsel Asad Manzoor Butt submitted that the petitioner [brother of the victim] had many times visited the Lytton Road police station to have the statements recorded but the investigating officer refused to do so on the plea that they were restrained by their high-ups and could not record the statements without their permission.

Normally whether a person has diplomatic immunity or not is the purview of the government sending him and the host government’s foreign office. Whereas US has been claiming rightly or wrongly that the person is a diplomatic personnel, Pakistani Foreign Office is conspicuous by absence of any statement on the matter.

To fill the vacuum left by our dilly dallying foreign office, the courts have moved in as according to Geo News

Lahore High Court Chief Justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry on Tuesday blocked any move to hand over to US authorities an American government employee under investigation for double murder, and put his name on the exit control list.

The United States on Monday again called for the release of Raymond Davis, who was arrested after killing two Pakistani motorcyclists in broad daylight in Lahore, saying that he acted in legitimate self-defence.

“I am restraining him (from being handed over to US authorities). Whether he has or does not have (diplomatic) immunity will be decided by the court,” ruled CJ Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry.

“An order is issued to put his name on the ECL (exit control list). The case is adjourned for 15 days.”

Pakistan is a signatory to Vienna convention which in certain cases does allow for a diplomat to get away with murder. However, there are certain nuances to it and there is a difference between diplomatic immunity and consular immunity which Ayesha has covered excellently in her blog on the subject:

After initial investigation by the Lahore police, Davis was remanded for six days in police custody. This development triggered the debate that whether Davis had the diplomatic immunity as expounded in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. It is a multilateral treaty that governs the principles of diplomatic relations between the independent countries. According to various news reports it is confirmed that Davis doesn’t fall in the category of a diplomat. Generally, diplomats and their families enjoy blanket immunity from the criminal and civil jurisdiction of the host country under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

Davis was said to be a member of the consular staff, if so, than there is a separate multilateral treaty called the Vienna Convention on the Consular Relations which deals with the consular relations between the countries. Unlike Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations the Convention on Consular Relations doesn’t provide complete immunity to consular. The consular immunity under the Convention is limited to the course of his duty only. Many claimed that at the time of shooting Davis wasn’t exercising any consular function. Several courts in the US have interpreted the scope of ‘consular function’ quite broadly as it is a very fact based term.

If this is not enough, here are a few more bizarre facts

1. From Geo News,

LAHORE: Deputy Prosecutor General (DPG) Rana Bakhtiar has tendered his resignation from his post after been dismissed from the Raymond Davis case, Geo News reported…

It is pertinent to mention here that Rana Bakhtiar was dismissed over his statement given to Geo News that Raymond Davis does not have diplomatic immunity.

Bakhtiar said that he gave the above statement in accordance with the law and record,

2. Another fact is the speech of US FO spokesman which was made immediately after the arrest. The spokesman was speaking in Washington and said that “Raymond Davis” is an alias and not the true identity of the arrested man. He repeate d the same a couple of days later when asked to confirm the identity of the arrested man. This raises the question as when did diplomatic personnel started using ‘aliases’.

3. Now our interior minister has also jumped into the fray. According to Dawn

Malik informed the House that the person arrested by the Punjab police is holding a diplomatic passport.

a statement which is in complete contradiction to the statement given by ex-deputy prosecutor general as quoted above.

 

In all of this, my only contention is, where is the Foreign Office or Foreign Minister, who actually matter in this case.

UPDATE:

A friend of mine sent me an excerpt from speech of Khomeini that he made in 1964 and since it incited a lot of people, he was exiled soon after.

Khomeini’s Speech Excerpts “The Granting of Capitaluatory Rights to the USA” – 27 October, 1964

I cannot express the sorrow I feel in my heart Iran no longer has any festival to celebrate; they have turned our festival into mourning…Theyhave sold us, they have sold our independence; but still they light up the city and dance The dignity of the Iranian Army has been trampledunderfoot! A law has been put before the Majlis according to which we are to accede to the Vienna Convention, and a provision has been added to it that all American military advisers, together with their families, technical, and administrative officials, and servants “ in short, anyone in any way connected to them ” are to enjoy legal immunity with respect to any crime they may commit in Iran. If some American’s servant, some American cook, assassinates your marja in the middle of the bazaar, or runs over him, the Iranian police do not have the right to apprehend him! Iranian courts do not have the right to judge him! The dossier must be sent to America, so that our master there can decide what is to be done They have reduced the Iranian people to a level lower than that of the American dog. If someone runs over a dog belonging to an American, he will be persecuted. But if an American cook runs over the Shah, the head of the state, no one will have the right to interfere with him. Why? Because they wanted a loan and Americans demanded this in return.

Source: Islam and Revolution: Writings and Declarations of Imam Khomeini, p 181-188.

Counterpunch also makes some good points in their 8th February piece on the same case. I writing a few excerpts but the piece is worth reading in full.

Davis (whose identity was first denied and later confirmed by the US Embassy in Islamabad), and the embassy have claimed that he was hired as an employee of a US security company called Hyperion Protective Consultants, LLC, which was said to be located at 5100 North Lane in Orlando, Florida. Business cards for Hyperion were found on Davis by arresting officers.

However CounterPunch has investigated and discovered the following information:

First, there is not and never has been any such company located at the 5100 North Lane address. It is only an empty storefront, with empty shelves along one wall and an empty counter on the opposite wall, with just a lone used Coke cup sitting on it. A leasing agency sign is on the window.  A receptionist at the IB Green & Associates rental agency located in Leesburg, Florida, said that her agency, which handles the property, part of a desolate-looking strip mall of mostly empty storefronts, has never leased to a Hyperion Protective Consultants. She added, “In fact, until recently, we had for several years occupied that address ourselves.”

The US claim that Davis has diplomatic immunity hinges first and foremost on whether he is actually a “functionary” of the consulate.  According to Lahore police investigators, he was arrested carrying a regular US passport, which had a business visa, not a diplomatic visa. The US reportedly only later supplied a diplomatic passport carrying a diplomatic visa that had been obtained not in the US before his departure, but in Islamabad, the country’s capital.

(Note: It is not unusual, though it is not publicly advertised, for the US State Department to issue duplicate passports to certain Americans.

DAWN yesterday published a great piece by a professor at University of Toronto which raises very pertinent questions and highlighted double standards of US:

For the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, a parking ticket violation is more atrocious than a murder. As a junior senator from New York, Mrs. Clinton wanted to revoke the diplomatic immunity for scofflaw diplomats who were stationed at the United Nations in New York and had racked up $21.3 million in parking violations. As the Secretary of State, however, she is invoking diplomatic immunity for Mr. Raymond Davis, who is accused of murdering two young men in Lahore.

I am not suggesting that parking violations could or should be ignored…..What I do not understand is how can one justify waiving diplomatic immunity for a misdemeanour, i.e., a parking violation, and insist on invoking it for violating the sixth commandment, thou shalt not kill, for a person whose diplomatic credentials are dubious at best, and whose culpability is beyond doubt.

Granting Mr. Davis diplomatic immunity will deny the judicial system in Pakistan the opportunity to determine the circumstances that lead to the two murders. The courts need to establish if Mr. Davis is indeed a diplomat, and not a contract worker or a mercenary employed by the US consulate in Lahore. The courts need to determine that if Mr. Davis were a diplomat, where was he stationed in the past or what school he attended to prepare for a career in foreign diplomacy. The courts need to ascertain if he indeed was acting in self-defence when he shot the two men riding away on a motorbike through the windshield of his car. The courts need to determine if he indeed was on diplomatic business at the time he shot the two men.

I have spoken with senior Pakistani diplomats in North America who have confirmed that Mr. Davis was issued an official business visa, which is reserved for contractors and lower-level staff serving in foreign missions in Pakistan. This does not make Mr. Davis eligible for diplomatic immunity in the first place.

The above piece needs to be read in full to appreciate the points good professor is making.

UPDATE 2:

From DAWN

Lahore police categorically rejected on Friday the American’s claim that he had killed two motorcyclists at Mozang on Jan 27 in ‘self-defence’.

The police chief said: “Forensic reports say no fingerprints were found on the triggers of the (motorcyclists’) pistols and the bullets remained in the magazine of their gun, and not in the chamber.” Davis gave no chance to the boys, he said.

“We have proof in the form of eyewitness accounts and forensic reports that it was not a case of self-defence. Rather it was a clear murder,” he said.

Mr Tareen said the investigation team had found a GPS tracker, mobile phones, wireless sets, a survival kit and photographs in Davis’s car.

“The investigation revealed that the motorcyclists did not point guns at Davis as the weapons recovered from them were not loaded.”

Witnesses told police that Davis had directly shot at them and kept shooting even when one of them was running for his life.

Mr Tareen termed it a cold-blooded act and accused Davis of intentionally killing the two men in a public place.

Hot off the press:

Raymond Davis is being kept in Kot Lakhpat jail under seven layers of security. The first layer is not provided with arms and ammunition _ so that they do not end up killing Raymond Davis themselves. The fifth layer comprises of elite army SSG commandos.

Pakistan “Army Drama”

The title of the news in DAWN was Pakistan army drama to show human face of war. However, later on DAWN decided to take the news (I don’t know why) but God bless Google which keeps track of such things through cached pages. You can find the cached copy of the news here.

In case the above link does not work, try reading the cache version on Google

A friend of mine highlighted the fact that, there is an actual phrase “army drama” in the title of DAWN article and wondered how did it happen? I said may be it is a case of Freudian slip.

The news item goes on to say that the “multi million” dollar drama is an effort from Pakistan Army to win the battles of hearts and mind and to show the valour of Pakistani soldiers. As if dramas could win the hearts and mind of people. I think rather than spending billions in Iraq and Afghanistan on people, war lords and corrupt leaders, US should make dramas showing brave American soldiers laying down their lives for safety of Iraqi/Afghani people and this would help in winning Iraqs/Afghanis hearts and minds.

I don’t think so any of us doubt the bravery with which our foot soldiers lay down their lives in this wasteful exercise when it has been clearly stated by Ashfaq Pervez Kyani that this war is only till US leaves the region and then we will be pals with the Talibans.

Working so closely with US has an adverse impact on our army. It now thinks like US rather wants to repeat their mistakes. Making this drama is akin to pro-war propaganda of US during vietnam era. No body doubted the bravery of American soldier fighting in the Vietnam war. But it was a wrong war that resulted in so many lives being wasted.

Spending “multi million dollars” on a drama to win hearts and minds is such a shameful waste of money. But what is shameless is getting the sons of this soil killed for a war that GHQ does not even want to win.

Legalistic Mindfuck of the day : UAE edition

DAWN reported via UAE’s the National that two Pakistanis have been apprehended in UAE for having links to Al-Qaeda. The paper goes on to report that

Prosecutors allege AkW sent “two laptop computers, two telescopes, two pencil torches, two Swiss army knives and a tent” to “Islamist militants” in Pakistan.

Is this all that the prosecutors based their case on? You can buy this stuff easily in Pakistan in any town with the exception of Swiss army knives which are available in cities. Even if such things are not available in city, one can easily buy them in Bara markets along Pakistan Afghan border. Did anybody stop to ask why would Al Qaeda request such mundane stuff from UAE? The charges appear framed.

This raises a question were  there any grounds to apprehend these people or were they just picked up because Pakistani authorities “tipped off” the UAE authorities. Sadly, latter seems to be the case and the newspaper reporting hasn’t done anything to alleviate the doubt.

Journalistic mindfuck of the day : Air crash edition

Yesterday’s crash of Air Blue jet in Islamabad killing all 152 people on board was a national tragedy. However, what made the situation worse for the grieving nation was the pathetic reporting by major news outlets.

Cafe Pyala has done an excellent coverage of it here:

No tragedy, however, is big enough that a few misguided souls cannot subvert through their unmitigated idiocy.

Exhibit A: ARY reporters take away identity cards from crash site to show on camera as a scoop. Geo reporter threatens that his cameraman has two ID cards of the deceased as well. So what if we can’t show bodies anymore?

Exhibit B: Someone wonders on a blog if the crash could be a conspiracy to turn public attention away from the fake degrees issue.

Exhibit C: Geo believes it’s important that an animated loop of a plane crashing repeatedly into hills and going up in a fireball is important to drive home the story. Particularly for friends and relatives of the deceased.

Commentators on the same blog provide additional examples of stupidity. You can read the comments here.

In contrast, DAWN’s deputy editor has written a very sensible blogpost on the shameful media coverage of the event:

Just the way you wouldn’t hand weapons to an untrained army, you wouldn’t hand cameras and a press pass to untrained media representatives. However, fact of the matter is that time and time again we are reminded that the latter has been taking place in Pakistan almost constantly.

You can read the rest of the blog post here.

Introspection : Pornistan

The pundits are saying that internet spells doom for newspapers and journalism as we know it. As news is available freely over the internet, less and less number of people are really interested in shelling out money for subscribing to the printed material. All sorts of blogs are coming up which use online materials, mailed in videos/pics from mobiles to report on a story in real time thus making newspapers obsolete.

For newspapers to survive, they have to change their model. They cannot rely on press releases and Associated Press reports. They need to add value. This is where investigative journalism comes in, something that is almost dead in Pakistani newspapers. This is where the online blogs and associate presses of the world cannot compete. The journalists have to roll up their sleeves and find out about issues and turn in reports that actually raise lids off simmering issues and help in highlighting problems.

The blogs and news aggregators do not make efforts to verify the news. They pick up any tidbit or rumor and report it world over (with a disclaimer if they like). If it is controversial, it becomes viral in 24 hours. In the race to be the first to give their two cents, everyone through their blogs, tweets, sms, facebook status updates helps in spreading the rumored news item.

This is what happened with the most recent story about porn fetish in Pakistan. Fox News published a malicious report on Pakistan, The News (part of Jang Publications) reported it verbatim and pretty soon the Pakistan websphere was wild with it everyone emailing each other, posting the news on their facebook page, blogging about it and tweeting it to each other. If Google counted how many times the porn fetish words were repeated, typed in, emailed to each other by Pakistanis, it would have multiplied the already misreported statistic turning it into a self fulfilling prophecy (but thats not how Google works).

What amazed me was that without verifying the underlying numbers which is quite easy to do, everyone had blogged, tweeted and updated the status about it. Just imagine the visitors it would bring to my blog site if I pepper my post with the search titles in that report.

As usual,  introspection was the name of the game with everyone in Pakistan (bloggers, columnists and editors) attributing such sick fetishes to repression of sex in everyday life, religious mores that enforce segregation of sexes and conservative values.

Had anyone done a teeny weeny bit of research, they would have found out that the report did not represent a true picture. Below I reproduce in comments by Indian scholar Namit Arora on the report which shows that the research methodology was flawed.

Ok, let’s say that I decided to study the frequency of keyword searches as a scholar might, and then see what conclusions are warranted from it. I will need to do at least the following:

1. First, I’ll need to normalize the searches across languages, across equivalent terms used in, say, Russian, Italian, Serbian, etc.

2. Then I’ll need to normalize across the demographics of Internet users. If males dominate Internet use in a country, might they be skewing their country’s per capita occurrence of certain search terms? In Pakistan, males outnumber females by more than 3:1 for regular use and 7:1 for occasional use of the Internet.

3. Then I’ll need to normalize for how integrated the Internet is in a culture’s way of life – do people widely turn to it to look up kebab joints, street maps, movies, sports, and banking, or is it still early days – not enough local info online yet and people prefer newspapers, radio, TV, and word-of-mouth, perhaps it’s still a relatively novel and foreign import, with porn being much more of a “killer app” at this stage.

And so on. Then I might begin to have some apples-to-apples data. Making sense of it and drawing reliable conclusions about, say, sexual repression will be my next challenge.

FOX looked up some keywords on Google Trends. So I did the same and found these interesting tidbits:

1. On searches for “horse sex” worldwide, Finland ranks 4, Australia 6, Denmark 8, US 9, Canada 10.

2. On “violent rape”, Belgium is 3, Australia 4, Canada 6, UK 7, US 8, France 9, Italy 10.

3. On “dog sex”, Australia is 5, US 6, Canada 7, Finland 8, UK 9, Hungary 10.

4. On “sheep sex”, Ireland is 1, New Zealand 2, Australia 3, UK 4, US 5, Canada 6.

5. On “child rape”, US is 7, New Zealand 8, Australia 9, Canada 10.

6. On “child porn”, New Zealand is 3, Australia 6, Canada 7, Norway 8, US 10.

7. On “pregnant rape”, UK is 2, US 3, Canada 4, Germany 5.

Note that these are English search terms, so non-English speaking countries (at least on the Internet), are less likely to show. Pakistanis on the Internet use English (despite limited average proficiency and vocabulary); it’s more surprising to see the French and Italians searching for “violent rape”.

The search for “camel sex” understandably brings in Israel, UAE and Saudi Arabia in the top 10, but also Portugal and Switzerland. People in the Alps dreaming of humping camels? Go figure!

One can make a lot of logical arguments against banning of Facebook or other website but using some cooked up statistics to do it was the most criminal thing for FoxNews to do.

What was more absurd is that English speaking/writing elite in Pakistan tried to find justification for the false report in whatever factor (mainly repression of sex) that struck their fancy.

Despite how disgusting one might find porn, one has to realize that porn has been at the forefront of some of internet technology development. They were the pioneers of web based payments, forced companies as well users towards server and bandwidth upgradation, improved online webstreaming etc. Part of the growth of internet is due to adult content. However, this growth was not geared towards the poor people of developing or depressed economies. These sites exist to cater to their paying customers in the West and not some backward Pakistani rural male who may not even have a bank account much less a credit card without which he could not access it.

Watch out Mr. President

From Dawn

LARKANA: President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday said that they will not take revenge for the murder of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Who does he think he is helping by not bringing the killers and murderers on trial? This is the third prime minister that has been killed in this country and he believes that he is doing the nation a favor by letting the murderers go.

Justice delayed is justice denied. Rather in this case, by not bringing the murderers to the book (Zardari has claimed on numerous occasions that he knows the culprits) Zardari is keeping the door open for future prime ministers as well as civilian president (watch out Mr. Zardari) to be killed without any fear of getting caught or punished. He is not doing anyone any favors least of all himself.

Despite the fact  that two people who stood to gain the most by Benazir Bhutto’s murder were Zardari and Musharraf, I like to believe that he is a bereaved widower. However,  by making such statements he is not helping his case.

UPDATE: Someone posted an SMS that she got

Bilawal to Zardari, “dad its been 2.5 years since we became maskeen, when would we catch the murderers?”


Zardari,”Maskeen to pehlay hi ho, qatil pakarwa kar yateem bhi hona chahtay ho?”

Facebook : Courts and Media

The issue of facebook has displayed the schisms in the Pakistani nation. Honestly speaking, I am proud of the court’s decision. When facebook which has ignored complaints over its privacy issues despite the fact that the global media and blogosphere is incessantly complaining about it, a decision by a Pakistani court to solicit such as reaction from the company is an achievement:

“We are very disappointed with the Pakistani courts’ decision to block Facebook without warning, and suspect our users there feel the same way,” Facebook said in a statement to AFP.

“We are analyzing the situation and the legal considerations, and will take appropriate action, which may include making this content inaccessible to users in Pakistan,” it said.

This is a company which is known for it arrogance when it comes to user issues.

However, our media is also stoking the fire. This is from yesterday’s DAWN

“What if they will ban it permanent? I will move out somewhere else,” one user wrote on his Facebook status update. Was this even a newsworthy item. I want to see this guy leave the country over facebook.

He could have said that banning facebook does not solve our energy issues, terrorism problems, education system, governance and institutional structures (the usual excuse by the media persons be it the 18th amendment, renaming NWFP to pukhtoonkhwa, banning facebook etc). No he is going to leave the country and DAWN finds the bravado worth reporting.

In blogosphere, a blogger was praising shias saying that in progressive shia sect, one is allowed to depict the Prophet. Its the sunni Islam that is against it. Nothing against the shias but I think he should get his facts straight. It wasn’t the sunnis (they might as well have) but Ayatollah Khomeini who came with a fatwa for death of Salman Rushdie. Certain people use every opportunity to propagate differences amongst people.

Civil right organizations losing their heads over the situation is the best part claiming that there is no censorship in developed countries. I suggest that they go and try denying holocaust in Continental Europe. They will end up behind bars the very day. Thats freedom of speech for you.

I would suggest that civil right organizations hold a comedy show in Karachi in which people try to make fun of Altaf Hussein. Lets see how many even make it to the event.

Facebook has been banned in lot of companies where my friends work for quite sometime because people waste a lot of time on it. Initially they felt withdrawal syndromes but within a week everyone adjusted. Its not like world stops turning forcing one to change employers or leave the country. Human beings are resilient and adaptive. They adjust.