ISLAMABAD: The Raymond Davis case is turning into yet another Lal Mosque-like episode for Pakistan which if mishandled by the government to the pleasure of Washington would further extremism and fuel terrorism.
On the contrary, if the double murderer American is tried and punished, notwithstanding any foreign pressure, as per the law of the land it would help reduce suicide attacks and extremism in a remarkable way. The choice is with the federal as well as Punjab government as to what they really opt for - more bloodshed or peace.
“We need to sit together and rethink our strategy on this particular issue but it does not happen here,” this is how a Foreign Office official reflects on Pakistan’s dilemma where institutions are ignored and major decisions are left for the individuals to take. In view of veteran former diplomat and respected ex-foreign secretary Riaz Khokhar, the instant case should be focused to get rid of all Davis-like US commandos and intelligence operatives threatening our sovereignty. He insisted that the national leadership should immediately devise a strategy on a war footing that how the huge influx of American commandos on Pakistan soil be reversed and all these commandos are sent back forcibly. “See, I am telling you if we failed to do this at this moment we will lose our sovereignty,” Khokar warned.
Officially both the federal and provincial governments stand firm that the courts would decide the fate of the American killer and that they would not succumb to any pressure. But privately they give confusing signals. Under Washington’s pressure, the federal government does consider obliging the Americans by putting up a favourable immunity-related note before the Lahore High Court.
As against their public posturing, the Punjab government too is going soft amid unconfirmed reports that police investigators are under pressure to let the influential criminal off the hook. There is also strange silence on the issue of arresting the other American killer, who got Ibadur Rehman crushed under the wheels of his vehicle.
“A national consensus has developed on the issue of Davis. The people demand his trial here and are not ready to see him going in US hands without being punished,” former ISI chief Lt Gen (r) Hamid Gul said, warning that if the man is given back to Washington it would not only depress ordinary Pakistanis but would serve as another Lal Mosque disaster.
Gul said that the fallout of giving immunity to Davis and letting him go scot-free would be extremely serious beyond many people’s imagination. “We may see a new wave of terrorism,” he said. The Lal Mosque massacre of July 2007 had resulted into manifold increase in suicide bombing and terrorist activities. Many in the media were even seen advising Musharraf through their editorials and private meetings to launch military operation on Lal Mosque and Jamia Hafsa occupants to present a moderate face of Pakistan to the outside world. But it all ended in igniting terrorism and fuelling extremism. Later, however, many in the government as well as media regretted that the Lal Mosque event was mishandled though it was like crying over spilt milk.
Can we afford to repeat the similar blunder? Or should we exploit the Raymond Davis case to reverse Washington’s massive influence into our internal affairs, treat him as per the law of the land, re-gain our compromised sovereignty and give a clear message to all and sundry that Pakistan is an independent state and believes in the rule of law. If Pakistan refuses to hand over Davis to Washington and punishes him here, as is required under the law of the land, it would send a positive message to the extremists. Undoubtedly the unparalleled growth of extremism in Pakistan has been the consequence of the post 9/11 policies of General Musharraf, whose compromises at the cost of national security and country’s sovereignty saw no end to please the Americans. We have now with us an American killer Davis, whose fair trial within Pakistan would help the extremists to develop positive thinking about those ruling the country. Such thinking is crucial to checking extremism.
Riaz Khokhar while talking to The News said that keeping aside the Davis issue for a moment, the disclosure of presence of 900 to 1000 US security commandos, roaming in different cities of Pakistan, is itself the biggest threat to the national security of Pakistan. He foresees that public outrage could evoke anytime against the sleeping regime over this miserable and vulnerable national security situation.
Khokhar said there is no doubt that the sentiments of million of Pakistanis are attached with the Davis incident. He said the incident has further deepened the already existing hatred against the brutalities of US, and underlined that this is high time that the whole national leadership should sit together besides discussing the matter in Parliament to find out who in the government or the establishment had allowed the Davis like US commandos to come and operate within the territory of Pakistan without any security clearance. He said Pakistan should never hand over Davis to US and urged that the sovereignty of the country should not be compromised in any manner. “He is the killer and doesn’t enjoy any immunity. He should be dealt with the law of the land,” Khokhar said adding: “And if our rulers make the mistake to hand him over to US the outrage of the people of Pakistan will be uncontrollable.”