The United States is running out of time with regards to Raymond Davis’s incarceration in Lahore, Pakistan.
Mr. Davis, a former Special Forces operator and current CIA “contractor,” was stuck in a traffic jam a few weeks back. Seeing two armed men approaching his car, he shot them both dead. He was arrested. The local Pakistani authorities charged him with murder.
Mr. Davis, who has diplomatic status, claimed diplomatic immunity.
He was supported in this claim by the US Director of Central Intelligence, the US Secretary of State, the US Secretary of defence, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and The President of the United States. Given that the US provides Pakistan with billions of dollars in aid and relief money every year, one would think that the matter of Mr. Davis’s diplomatic status would have long since been resolved.
Mr. Davis remains in jail and, as Christopher Hitchens notes, he’s essentially a hostage:
Not to mince words, then, Davis is a hostage. In addition to the usual sense of the word, he is a hostage to the Pakistani authorities who dare not—even if they wish—make an enemy either of the Islamist mobs or the uniformed para-state run by the intelligence services.
He is also a hostage to the inability or unwillingness of the U.S. government to call things by their right names. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have made the correct noises about the relevant international statutes governing immunity, and their envoy Sen. John Kerry (who should never have been sent unless notified in advance that he would return with the prisoner) has even spoken of putting Davis on trial in the United States, which in ordinary circumstances might seem a little premature. But they all talk as if Pakistan were a country of law, and they all talk as if Pakistan were not a client state. Its client status, indeed, is what leads so many Pakistanis to detest America, without whose largesse and indulgence it would long ago have faced collapse. Thus to the final irony: We are denied leverage by the fact of the very influence for which we are hated.
This sick relationship with Pakistan, which plays a continuous and undisguised double-cross on us in Afghanistan, will probably have to be terminated at some point. But in the meantime, it will have to be made very clear to the rulers of that country that if they want to keep Raymond Davis in prison, they will have to manage without our subsidies. He may be a bad test of an important principle, but it is still the important principle that is being tested, and we have no more right to compromise on the principle of diplomatic immunity than the Pakistanis have to violate it.
Mr. Davis’s “trial” on murder charges re-convenes on Thursday, 3 March. If that “trial” is allowed to go forward, the political reaction against the Obama Administration in the United States will be ferocious.
We’re probably only a week or two away from TV Chyrons declaring “American(s) Held Hostage,” similar to the Chyrons that were used by the television networks during the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979-80.
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