Friday, February 25, 2011

'Raymond Davis' - FAQ

Continuing moronic statements by trolls on this blog and some no doubt military establishment-goaded television anchorpersons have forced me to address - hopefully for the last time - certain basic issues to do with the whole 'Raymond Davis' saga. Unfortunately, such is the deterioration of our national discourse and perhaps of our educational system that not only are people often unable to grasp simple arguments but are willing, immediately and without understanding the nuances of the points being made, to ascribe ulterior motives to anyone presenting facts that go against popular opinion. So for the sake of clarity, I will attempt to make my points as questions and answers in bullet form (no pun intended). Roughly the same questions have come up repeatedly in earlier comments.

The man known as Raymond Davis in custody

1. Do I 'support' 'Raymond Davis'?

No. I hold no brief for him or others like him. Nor do I wish to see 'security contractors' / yahoos like him roaming around in Pakistan.

2. Do I think US interventionism is okay in Pakistan?

Personally, I think crying about US interference in Pakistan's affairs after the 'Raymond Davis' affair is not only cretinous but also hypocritical - there has been American interference in this country's internal affairs almost since it was created and which has been welcomed wholeheartedly by our establishment which benefits handsomely from it. Moreover, it will continue to benefit from it in the foreseeable future as well irrespective of the public stances it takes. Nevertheless, no, I don't think it has generally been a force for good in the past and it has usually been counter-productive in the present.

3. Do I want Raymond Davis to walk free after killing two Pakistanis and being involved in the death of a third?

It really does not matter what I, or anyone else, may want. There is a small issue of diplomatic conventions that Pakistan is a signatory to. If he does have diplomatic immunity, Pakistani courts cannot try him unless the US gives its consent. I do think he should have a fair trial for the killings but, if he does have diplomatic immunity, the best Pakistan can do is ask the Americans to try him in the US.

4. Am I still claiming 'Raymond Davis' has immunity after all that has come to light about him?

I am not claiming anything beyond pointing out what is already there in the legal conventions and whatever evidence has so far appeared. The basic question on which this hinges, as far as I can ascertain and as has been pointed out earlier, is whether 'Davis' was a member of the US Embassy staff in Islamabad - in which case the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 applies to him and he has blanket immunity - or a member of the US Consulate staff in Lahore - in which case the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963 applies to him and he does not have blanket immunity. That determination is, in my opinion, the main one that needs to be made.

5. But he's an acknowledged spy! And he is a contractor, not a diplomat!

As I pointed out in one of my earlier posts on this issue, long before the shocker (not!) of the acknowledgement that 'Davis' works for the CIA, it does not matter as far as the legal standing of diplomatic immunity is concerned. The Vienna Convention of 1961 (not the 1963 Convention on Consular Relations) grants the same privileges to an embassy's "technical and administrative staff" as diplomats. Of course there are spies working on 'cover posts' in all embassies and anyone who has any doubt should go ask the Pakistan Foreign Office about how many intelligence personnel are deputed in our foreign missions on cover posts. Should they all go round killing people and claiming immunity? And does diplomatic immunity confer the license to kill? Obviously not. But that doesn't change the legal position.

6. But what about Shah Mahmood Qureshi's claim that the Foreign Office had determined that 'Raymond Davis' did not have blanket immunity?

Mr. Qureshi or the Foreign Office has yet to state the evidence on which this claim was based. Indeed, the Foreign Office has yet to make that claim officially itself. They may have valid reasons, especially if the US had 1) not actually notified 'Davis' as a diplomat to the Foreign Office (contrary to what the Americans are now claiming which would mean also that their official letter is fabricated) or 2) If the US had notified him as attached to the Lahore Consulate rather than the Islamabad embassy. However, we have yet to hear of the reasoning. The Pakistan Foreign Office does indeed have the right to determine diplomatic status under Pakistan law, but obviously this has to be based on solid reasoning.

There have been some in the Pakistani press who have pointed to lacunae in the Pakistani law that the Foreign Office must 'approve' diplomatic status even after another state notifies someone as a diplomat (an approval that 'Davis' had apparently not received), and which do not grant diplomatic status to 'technical and administrative staff' of embassies. Moreover, they have claimed that Pakistani law takes precedence over international law (i.e. the Vienna Conventions). The Vienna Convention applicable to embassy staff (1961) itself only needs the 'sending' state to notify (there is no clause for approval) and, as pointed out before, applies equally to an embassy's technical and administrative staff. The common sense understanding of international law is that if a state ratifies an international treaty, it must ensure that its own laws comply with it. However, this is a matter of legal haggling and should this matter (of whether local law takes precedence over ratified international law) become a real issue, it would seem the International Court of Justice would have to be referred to, where in my humble opinion, if this is all that Pakistan's position is, its case would be weak.

7. Don't you think the US has been lying about 'Raymond Davis'? And don't you think the US media has been equally hypocritical by hiding facts it knew about him?

Yes and yes. Absolutely. The US government's response in the immediate aftermath of the incident was especially muddled and led to suspicions in the minds of most Pakistanis that it was trying to hide its guilt (which it probably was). The US media's capitulation to American government pressure to withhold information about 'Davis'' real activities has been particularly shameful. The Pakistani media should not be emulating it.

8. Don't you think there is more to this issue than what we already know?

Almost certainly. My analysis is based purely on what is already in the public domain. But it needs to be pointed out that so are the claims of almost everyone else in the media and my criticism of some of them is predicated on simply pointing out the flaws in their arguments.

9. So what should Pakistan have done? Do you want Pakistan to take this lying down?

There were a couple of recourses available to Pakistan before this sorry saga unfolded. One, it should not have given 'Raymond Davis' a visa if it had any doubts about him. Even after it granted him a visa, it could have expelled him from the country if it found his activities incompatible with diplomatic norms. However, if 'Davis' indeed has diplomatic immunity, all it can do now - aside from asking the US to lift it - is to declare him persona non grata and expel him and request the US to try him in its courts.

 Everybody hates 'Raymond'

What we are seeing, unfortunately, is a whipping up of emotionalism and fanciful conspiracy theories to cover up the dire incompetence and / or collusion of our security services. There are claims now that the visas were granted without proper checks because the security services were cut out of the loop in foreign capitals by the political establishment. First of all, if this is even true, why was this not raised as an issue at the time? 'Davis'' first visa was issued in 2009. He received two subsequent visas in 2010, both from Islamabad. Were our security services sleeping? Or are they so riddled with bureaucracy that their flagging of a violation of norms took until 2011 to trickle up to the relevant officers?

Secondly, even if one accepts that our security services were cut out of the loop in the grant of visas, what about the entire time 'Davis' and others like him were living in Pakistan and conducting their "subversive" activities? Are we to take it that, in the almost two years he kept coming in and out of Pakistan, our intelligence was so incompetent that it never once spotted his activities and flagged them? Shouldn't they have paid particular attention to people who allegedly bypassed normal security clearances? It would seem that all this hoopla now is to cover up the fact that our security services had dropped the ball.

We are now hearing all sorts of stories about 'Davis' - from the silly story in The News by Marianna Babar about his addiction to niswar (as if chewing tobacco or snuff is a rarity among US servicemen particularly from areas like Virginia state), to claims in the Express Tribune that 'Davis' was orchestrating bombings by the Pakistani Taliban (sourced to anonymous intelligence personnel) to claims on Geo and in The Nation (sourced from some alleged Russian intelligence report) that he was involved in supplying nuclear material to Al Qaeda in order to frame Pakistan. We should be clear about one thing. Regardless of the authenticity (or likely not) of these stories, they are basically a smokescreen that obscure the real issues of this case. They matter not a whit in whether 'Raymond Davis' is tried in Pakistan or whether we are forced to expel him without a trial.

10. Should Pakistan reassess its ties with US intelligence and its covert operations programme?

By all means. But Pakistan's establishment should do so in a cool, logical manner, having weighed the consequences of its actions. This should not be done by whipping public opinion into a frenzy through post-facto planting of stories and side-tracking issues. You want to kick out Xe (nee Blackwater) operatives from Pakistan? Absolutely do so. Why wait until they cause damage?

Footnote: You may want to read this piece from Foreign Policy that came in as I was writing. It deals with what may have allegedly been agreed between the Pakistani and American military's top officials particularly regarding this case in a closed-door meeting in Oman yesterday. If this report is correct, you may actually very soon see a complete change of tone in the media as well.


Dost Mohammad said...

controversial posts may attract a particularly strong response from "those unfamiliar with the robust dialogue found in some online, rather than physical, communities. Experienced participants in online forums know that the most effective way to discourage a troll is usually to ignore it, because responding tends to encourage trolls to continue disruptive posts — hence the often-seen warning: "Please do not feed the trolls"

Bolshevik said...

Too much inbreeding results in the sort of population that we have today in Mamlikat Allahbakhsh Pakistan. :-P

Dost Mohammad said...

controversial posts may attract a particularly strong response from those unfamiliar with the robust dialogue found in some online, rather than physical, communities. Experienced participants in online forums know that the most effective way to discourage a troll is usually to ignore it, because responding tends to encourage trolls to continue disruptive posts — hence the often-seen warning: "Please do not feed the trolls"
Gosh XYZ, why you had to remove my earlier comment, how come?, really I enjoy your posts but going trough censor on your blog? I find that laughable.

XYZ said...


we have not removed ANY comments in a long long time. Please don't jump to conclusions. If we ever do, we say why. There is some glitch in Blogger which may be causing it. Strangely, even the comments that disappear do turn up in our emails notifications.

Dost Mohammad said...

Really sorry if that was the case and yes it might be a glitch. But my compliments for the excellent write up, but to be honest I really did not like your calling your readers comments "moronic statements by trolls on this blog"

XYZ said...

@Dost Mohammad: Just to clarify, by no means am I calling all readers trolls. I think people can tell who the trolls are: they are the ones who post the same or similar comments in all posts (and go around looking for other similar blogs to post on as well), and whose comments usually have nothing to do with the content of the posts themselves but rather their own preconceived ideological notions. I have no problem with comments that disagree with or question my positions, as long as those comments are argued on the basis of facts rather than fabrications and assumptions about us.

Taliban said...


Are you sure you guys are not deleting the comment :P

I mean if you are doing something atleast ACCEPT IT like a man or woman ...whatever you are :P

Even a blind folded ROSHAN KHAYAL can see that you are deleting specifically my comments...

PROOF = some dumb thing tried to answer me but since my comment was deleted so i wasnt in position to say anything.
you can fool non-techy persons...but let me assure you bro..i know web more than you :P

i mean i tried three times to post my comment and some ROSHAN KHAYAL deleted it.but then it was a "GLITCH" :P

hahaha LIBERALS :P

After all since you are a ROSHAN KHAYAL

so lets start with obsession :P

80 percent of your blog posts main idea is to CURSE, DEFAME and CRITICIZE every other anchor, ISI or any person talking something about Pakistan :P
Whoever dont have a ROSHAN KHAYAL MIND like you a target of your blog...

well no doubt this isnt obsession but ROSHAN KAHAYLI :P

You are continuously trying to prove that your LORD RAYMOND DAVIS has diplomatic immunity...when Foreign Ministers & Ministry itself are not sure....

Again this isnt obsession but ROSHAN KAHYALI :P

lying to your readers that you arent deleting comments when YOU ARE...

this certainly is ROSHAN KHAYLI Sir :P

Trolls & Anonymous arent much different btw :P


YOUR WHOLE CONTENT is based on the information searched from internet
especially FOREIGN MEDIA plus your OWN ROSHAN KHAYAL PERSPECTIVE... which obviously isnt a fact but certainly is ROSHAN KHAYALI :P

your definition of NON TOPIC COMMENT is "any comment which contains facts or has better answer to your article" is non topic and should be deleted... :P

@moronic statements by trolls on this blog

If a person don't agree to your point immediately and accepts whatever you say...say every bad word to him, known to human kind. THIS IS ROSHAN KHAYALI ...

Anonymous said...


What's up with all this dark blue font 0n a pitch black background? Hard to read!

Anonymous said...

Hi "Taliban Said",

Why don't you take off the turban for a while? You are cooking your own brain, my friend.

BZ said...

Wow! The FAQ is amazing. It is just that the tone is qualitatively different from your earlier posts on this issue. Here you are a bit exasperated, a little apologetic, and a lot more logical and rational than you were, for example, in your post that had unqualified praises for Mr. Sethi on RD.

Dost Mohammad said...

@BZ, hmmm you got me thinking, and I agree with you.

Anonymous said...


Talking of Mr. Sethi (I mean Mr. Najam Sethi), has anyone observed a fundamental change in his views since he moved to GEO? On his Apas Ki Baat on Feb 23, he sounds more like a Zaid Hamid or Orya Maqbool Jan, with his cock and bull narrative about the US and its institutions. Is this yet another sign of Pakistan veering alarmingly off-course?

zank said...

Great write-up. It's unfortunately that our population, or a vast majority of it, has lost any semblance of critical thinking, and one must boil it down to point form explaining everything in black and white to get the point across.

I personally was in fact confused about the asking for immunity, and then requirement for being granted immunity by the foreign office. As i figure after reading this, as long as the embassy sent in papers asking for immunity, the onus is on pakistan to explicitly deny it by actions such as requesting them to remove this person from pakistan. if they did not take this action then it clearly obvious that they lapsed in judgment at the time and are now covering their bases due to popular sentiment. One caveat though I think is that the embassy will have to show some proof of the FO receiving the letter, whether its a delivery confirmation or a letter sent back to embassy acknowledging receipt via a stamp or other means, otherwise there would be nothing stopping the embassy from backdating a letter today and using it as proof of immunity.

I think the matter really is very very simple. Whether we like the solution or not is inconsequential, but if immunity exists it must be obeyed. its oxymoronic that our politicians and populace have suddenly relied on the courts to solve the case, which supposedly should somehow show how strong pakistan is, and it will stand up against american arrogance and that our court of law will triumph and show how independent it is. but if anything it demonstrates how weak the law situation is in pakistan and the extent of political selfishness that we need to revert to such drama to solve simple problems.

quite simply, if A is true, then B follows, and the conclusion is C. If the americans can prove without doubt that they sent a letter to pakistani FO stating davis as embassy staff initially(and while approval by FO is not necessary as you say, i am sure they will need to show somehow that the pakistani Fo acknowledged receipt, otehrwise there is nothing stopping them from backdating a letter today and presenting it), and if the pakistani's were complicit by not denying the request, then the case is closed.

its unfortunate when the courts do their job and if they free him, standing up to popular sentiment, there will be quite an uproar by the people and suddenly the courts will be scrutinized and fingers pointed for being influenced by the americans.

TightDhoti said...

Yes, yes and yes!

a) We should look into the circumstances that have brought us to this place in time. Why and under whose policies was Mr. Davis in Pakistan to begin with.

b) What are the conditions that necessitated his entrance into the country, to conduct his "nefarious" designs

c) Seriously, the Taliban must hate Pakistani medias guts. They do so much to display their ruthlessness, and then we take their actions and blame it on America. Raymond Davis to be exact.

d) This is exactly why our civil service and bureaucracy need to be strengthened. Everything in Pakistan is open to legal interpretation, and everyone is scared to draw a line in the sand. Those claiming that Pakistani law must prevail are assuming that the outcome will satisfy their lust for revenge. Justice is blind, what if the courts set him free? Are we so emotionally charged that we will then turn on the courts as well?

Anonymous said...

The problem with politics in Pakistan is that Governments, when faced with difficult decisions, prefer to conduct trials by media without thinking of the long term ramifications.
In the short term, the Davis affair will reap rich benefits for the right wingers and even the "establishment". In the long term, this is going to cause serious problems because once the rabid right wingers realise that they have much more power than they thought before..... the dramas will really begin.
I agree with the author and especially on one point.... the Vienna convention needs to be respected.... because if not, then the next time a Cheema is found guilty, Pakistan will have no leg to stand on.

Pakistani said...

Being a liberal Pakistani, I occasionally glance at one of the 'liberal' Pakistani blogs. However, I'm disappointed by attitude of XYZ on this issue.

This attitude is typified by the following statement:

"It really does not matter what I, or anyone else, may want. "

So XYZ can have an opinion on every social issue under the sun but has no comments on this particular issue other than support the official American drivel that diplomats can cause carnage in a foreign country and get away with it?

Anonymous said...

Please read this article on diplomatic immunity, in The Independent.

Vienna convention was not written by idiots. And it is pretty clear that Raymond Davis DOES NOT have diplomatic cover.

However you can go ahead and work to save that USAID money that your brother's job depends upon.

Anonymous said...

A former British ambassador speaks up:

Annie said...

My, my. Did someone go ballistic? Did someone threaten you or what CP?

Anonymous said...

off topic but what are they talking about?

Muhammad Hafeez and Ahmed Shehzad are opening for the Pakistan batting line up, over bowled by Khurram Chohan.

Pakistan have so far won both their matches this tournament against Kenya and Zimbabwe. Canada have lost both their matches against Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka, but have gained inspiration from Wednesday’s upset when Ireland defeated England in a thrilling match at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore.