ISLAMABAD: The imperial arrogance of a superpower is increasing day by day for a weak democracy in Pakistan but still remains counterproductive. Pakistan is challenging the US the second time in less than six months after the Nato supply line was cut in October last year, which was resumed only after profound official apologies by Washington. This time, the US is not ready to apologise or show respect to Pakistani law but is trying to prove that Pakistan is not its most trusted but its most bullied ally.
A scheduled high-level trilateral meeting with Pakistan, which was aimed at discussing the situation in Afghanistan, has been put off. It wrongly assumed that postponing a diplomatic meeting would be enough for putting more pressure on Islamabad to release its shady secret agent Raymond Davis being tried for murder in Lahore.
This imperial arrogance never worked and Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir responded on Saturday that, “If I commit an immoral act, I won’t seek immunity.” As another pressure move, now the US officials have conveyed to Pakistan that if Raymond Davis will not be released in the coming days, then the visit of President Asif Ali Zardari to the US next month could also be postponed.
Highly reliable sources in the Foreign Office claimed that the US State Department is not calling the shots at least for the last 10 days, the White House is directly dealing with the Raymond Davis case under the pressure of CIA. It is now clear that Raymond Davis was working for CIA because CIA has stopped drone attacks in Pakistani tribal areas after his arrest.
It was also learnt that Pakistani officials in Washington are getting threatening messages directly from the White House. Pakistan Embassy in Washington has conveyed to the president and the prime minister in Islamabad last week that the US could postpone the visit of Zardari to Washington and some US congressmen are also planning to start a move for disrupting the US aid to Pakistan. Despite all these “threatening messages”, top government officials in Islamabad once again made it clear on Sunday that only the Pakistani courts will decide the fate of Raymond Davis.
A powerful federal minister very close to President Asif Ali Zardari told this scribe “We are not in a position to oblige the US because this matter is now sub judice and the Lahore High Court has included the name of Raymond Davis in the Exit Control List. If we will do anything in violation of the court orders, then the court will summon us for contempt and we are sure that the people of Pakistan will come out on the roads against us and our fate will be worse than Hosni Mubarak.”
When asked if there is unanimity in all the government institutions on the Raymond Davis case, then why Shah Mehmood Qureshi was not given the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the new cabinet, the minister had no satisfactory answer and accepted that the Qureshi affair had created many questions and only Prime Minister Gilani can answer these questions but he also said: “Let me tell you clearly that president, PM, Army chief and Punjab government are now on one wavelength on the Raymond Davis issue. Only the courts will decide his fate, we will not accept any US pressure, we are ready to face US sanctions because we know that new elections are very close and a small mistake on this issue will destroy the political future of Pakistan People’s Party.”
Despite all these off-the-record claims, no “powerful minister” is ready to say anything about the US on the record. Even Shah Mehmood Qureshi is making big claims only after he was not given Foreign Ministry. It is learnt that majority of the new cabinet members have advised the PM not to accept the US pressure. Initially, President Zardari asked the PM to find out some way to come out of the mounting US pressure but it was Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir who clearly wrote in one of his notes to the PM that “Raymond Davis is not a diplomat and we cannot compromise our national security by accepting US pressure on this issue. Let the courts decide the case, we should not provide immunity to a killer.”
Foreign Office sources said the arrogant attitude of the US on Raymond Davis case also exposed the seriousness of US for its war against terror and strategic dialogue with Pakistan. The US is ready to forget everything Pakistan did in the past just for a person who killed two Pakistanis in the name of so-called self-defence. The family of a third person is also planning to take some legal action against top police officials who have still not arrested the associates of Raymond Davis who killed motorcyclist Ibadur Rehman in their attempt to rescue the killer.
The Punjab Police officials claimed that they were in contact with US Consulate in Lahore for the arrest of the driver who killed a motorcyclist.
It is also important that diplomatic community in Islamabad is not supporting the US position on the Raymond Davis case. Many European diplomats exchanged views on this issue with this scribe and said that diplomats do not move and act like Raymond Davis moved and acted in Lahore. Diplomats are not entitled to carry illegal weapons with them.
One diplomat reminded me of my questions to US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton in a TV interview in 2009 in which I asked her that why US officials were moving in Pakistan with illegal weapons in their hands and when Pakistani police arrest them, why you put pressure on our government to release them. Hilary never had a satisfactory answer and promised in that television interview that she will get the details and will make sure that it does not happen again. But this promise was not fulfilled. US secret agents expanded their activities from Islamabad to Peshawar and from Lahore to Karachi under the nose of the PPP government.
One European diplomat said the US has forgotten all its responsibilities as a major international player just for Raymond Davis. Another diplomat said that tomorrow Raymond Davis type secret agents may kill more people in other capitals of the world and then the US will claim diplomatic immunity. He said Pakistan should not accept the US pressure because it will create more problems for diplomats all over the world.
An Arab diplomat said: “We condemn Taliban and al-Qaeda because they break the law of the land, we hunt them, we punish them but why can’t we arrest and punish a US citizen if he kills someone? What is the difference between Taliban and US secret agents. Both violate laws, both kill innocents.”