Pakistan may finally be getting ready to cough up Raymond Davis after the U.S. government employee shot two Pakistanis in an act that might have been too preemptive to be called self-defense. Even though Pakistan’s Dawn reproduced his pay stub, which shows he worked for US Overseas Protective Security Services, the United States sought to extend him diplomatic immunity. The Times of India reports:
Pakistan will tell a court that most of its legal experts believe that [the] detained American has diplomatic immunity, but will leave it to a judge to rule on his status, an official said on Tuesday — a sign that Islamabad is trying to give the US an opening to free the man while avoiding domestic backlash.
At Foreign Policy, C. Christine Fair expands on the the nature of Davis’s job:
Despite Pakistanis’ assertions that he is a spy, he does not have the profile of a bona fide operative of the Central Intelligence Agency. . . . However, some U.S. officials concede that he [may have] ties to the American intelligence apparatus. [Among issues] fuelling Pakistan’s deepest suspicions are the reports in the Pakistani media that a camera was recovered from Davis upon his arrest [which] reportedly contained “photos of . . . the headquarters of the paramilitary Frontier Corps in Peshawar and of Pakistan army bunkers on the eastern border with India.”
The men he killed were reportedly ISI agents, who, the European Union Times (despite its name, not too credible), were
. . . sent to follow him after it was discovered he had been making contact with al Qaeda after his cell phone was tracked to the Waziristan tribal area.
And why was he making contact with al Qaeda?
. . . top-secret CIA documents found in Davis’s possession point to his . . . providing to al Qaeda terrorists “nuclear fissile material” and “biological agents” they claim are to be used against the United States.
Meanwhile, at Sic Semper Tyrannis, Col. Pat Lang writes of Davis:
His undoubted links to people in Taliban territory have spawned the allegation that he was arranging Taliban bombings [by them, that is, not against them — RW] in Pakistan (it is a settled belief among most Pakistanis that the US wishes to destabilize the country in order to grab its nukes). A more sophisticated version of this is that he facilitated the attacks that had taken place on some ISI targets and the army’s GHQ [while freelancing for] former Afghan intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh (fired by President Karzai at Pakistan’s insistence).
Speaking of the ISI, the Times of India reports:
Pakistani officials told the Express Tribune in Lahore that the Pakistani government’s “tough stance” on the whole issue was also a “reaction to the attempts by certain elements in Washington to implicate . . . the ISI in the November 2008 Mumbai attacks,” including the decision by a US court to summon top ISI officials in connections with the attacks.
Anyway, the Davis incident has produced some curious side effects. First, as Alex Eichler at the Atlantic reports:
. . . apparently the Davis case has had a ripple effect on American drone strikes in Pakistan. . . . Ron Moreau and Sami Yousafzai at The Daily Beast report that there haven’t been any drone strikes in Pakistan for nearly a month, and that “a senior Pakistani official has confirmed that Davis’ case is directly connected to the freezing of the attacks, and says that Washington is afraid of further inflaming anti-American sentiment in Pakistan in the wake of the shootings.”
B. at Moon of Alabama takes that one step further.
Another reason may well be that Mr. Davis is a critical component in the drone campaign and that without what he was doing, collecting targeting data from informants or whatever, the drone strikes can not continue.
Ms. Fair details another side effect.
The U.S. government will have to present evidence about the nature of the position of Raymond Davis in Pakistan’s courts. While this is a tedious and gratuitous predicament, it may be a long overdue occasion to cast much-needed transparency upon the activities of the U.S. government in Pakistan and the nature of its ties to various Pakistani agencies.
Finally, B. at Moon of Alabama suggests it might be best to leave Davis to stew in his juices.
But to me it seems that keeping Davis off the streets has probably saved some Pakistani lives. Keeping him further off and inside a jail may probably save even more. That should be enough reason to press for his custody to continue.