KARACHI: Mystery shrouds Raymond Alan Davis, a US Citizen discovered in Mozang Chungi Lahore. Nothing appears to be clear about him. Innumerable questions with a lot of substance and reasons arise not only from the media reports, but also from the statements of the US and Pakistani officials.
The very first question is what is the real name of the accused US citizen commonly known as Raymond Davis? Was he a businessman or an ordinary civilian employee of the US Embassy? Did he legally enjoy diplomatic status? What was his profession, assignment or function within Pakistan? What was the compulsion for him to visit Mozang in Lahore, one of the most congested localities, during the peak rush hours? Did he kill the two Pakistani young men in self-defence or was it a callous wilful murder? Why was he riding in a car with forged number plates? Did Raymond Davis possess any licence for his weapon? Where has the killer vehicle of the US employees disappeared after running over innocent citizens, injuring several and killing at least one? Why have the local authorities not recovered this killer vehicle along with its driver and occupants?
The aforesaid are just some of the many pertinent questions that ought to be answered after thorough independent judicial investigations, before the government decides the fate of the US citizen who has killed two Pakistanis directly.
One more Pakistani was mercilessly run over and a few others seriously injured in the attempt by his colleagues to help him flee from the scene. In the first place, according
to the news reports there is no certainty about the name of this killer, commonly known as Raymond Alan Davis.
There are reasons to believe that he was working under a pseudonym. Certainty about his name is a pre-condition to determine the category of his visa or status in Pakistan, if any, held by him.
Perhaps it is due to this uncertainty that conflicting reports are appearing in some of the most credible newspapers, about the kind of his visa and period of its validity etc. One report claims that he visited Pakistan on a business visa at least nine times and his last Pakistani visa was issued last year for a period of two years.
However in a report emanating from diplomatic sources in Islamabad, he was granted in September 2009 a three-month diplomatic visa on a diplomatic passport and that was the only visa issued to him by the Pakistan Embassy in Washington.
Both government of Pakistan and US officials are obliged to state the facts categorically to remove any confusion on this issue. How far the officials of the two governments will succeed in removing this confusion, is yet to be seen.
However, what can be stated at present with some certainty is the position in law about the status, rights and privileges of a foreigner legally living in Pakistan. According to the Diplomatic and Consular Privileges Act IX of 1972 of Pakistan, which has incorporated and enforced ‘The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961’ and ‘The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963’, and as held in the judgment of the Sindh High Court in the case of Mrs ZA Qadir Vs Union of Soviet Socialist Republic PLD 1981 Kar-715, to successfully claim diplomatic immunity, two preconditions must be satisfied: Firstly a ‘diplomatic agent ought to be a member of the diplomatic staff’ and secondly it ought to be established that, proceedings initiated against him relates to his functions and duties as a diplomatic agent.
Surely to kill Pakistani citizens cannot be included in the official functions of a genuine diplomat, by any stretch of logic or law. I am very doubtful if Raymond Davis, or whatever is his real name, would succeed in satisfying any of the said two conditions.
The plea of self-defence is not likely to save his neck under the circumstances of this brutal murder, which has terrorised and shocked not just people in Lahore but most citizens all over Pakistan.
I hope the US Officials would agree that their lawful presence in Pakistan is to eradicate terrorism rather than to promote terrorism, which is the act, Raymond appears to have committed.
I may also emphasise that rights and privileges, if any available in law, can only be exercised by a person, foreigner or local, with good faith and bonafide motives and intentions, and are not available in law to hide a crime and escape prosecution and punishment.
(The writer is a senior advocate of the Supreme Court, and a former attorney general and federal law minister. Email: email@example.com)