ISLAMABAD: Will Saudi Arabia once again come to the rescue of two of its staunchest allies, the United States and Pakistan, with a face saving formula for all parties that cannot be challenged, as it is based on Islamic injunctions? By delivering, Jeddah will be doing what it has done several times in the past - bailing the US and Pakistan out of difficult situations.
The question pertains to Raymond Davis, President Obama's "our diplomat" the likes of which Pakistan hopes to deny 'diplomatic passports' in future. Taking advantage of his visit to Jeddah on March 3, the special US representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan Marc Grossman raised the issue of Raymond Davis during his presentation at the International Contact Group (ICG) meeting, which was also attended by Minister of State Ms Hina Rabbani Khar. The meeting was essentially to focus on Afghanistan.
Later, diplomatic sources confide Grossman raised the issue of Qisas and Diyat with the Saudi authorities on the sidelines of the ICG meeting. Spokesman at the US embassy not totally denying this says, "We are working with Pakistan to find a solution and resolve this matter but I could not tell you about (Grossman-Saudi meeting on Davis) and it would be inappropriate for me to comment". Before this, at the end of February, President Asif Ali Zardari had met with Saudi Prince Naif on the sidelines of the Kuwati celebrations and the Davis issue came up for discussion, confide diplomatic sources.
Prime Minister Yusuf Reza Gilani has also said that the "Saudi" option remains open. Diplomatic sources from Washington told The News, "Initially Washington was in touch with the UAE authorities to prevail upon Zardari as they enjoy close relations. Apparently this did not work so the next stop was Riyadh".
The diplomat stresses that the Saudi monarchy can prevail upon the Pakistani military, the clergy and the government and the only way out at present is the Qisas and Diyat approach. The courts would also abide by the Islamic injunctions.
"The military is miffed with the CIA for taking them for a ride but they also realise the gravity of the situation if the standoff between Islamabad and Washington continues. It is the clergy which has the street power, but once the Saudi clergy prevails upon the mullahs here, a lot of give and take can take place", says the diplomat.
Even this week, according to The Independent, an example of the US relying on the Saudis in a completely different matter was seen when the US asked Saudi Arabia if it could supply weapons to the rebels in the Benghazi area of Libya. "The royal family in Jeddah, which was deeply involved in the Contra scandal during the Regan administration, had earlier gave supported the American efforts to arm guerrillas fighting the Soviet army in Afghanistan in 1980 and also funded and armed the Taliban", says the report.
Intelligence sources confide to The News that the legal heirs of two men killed by Davis would find it difficult to refuse requests either by the Saudi officials or Saudi clergy and could be convinced.
"But this also involves shifting these heirs outside Pakistan and providing them with a comfort zone including means of a livelihood. The blood money resolution would also ensure that abiding by the Islamic tradition there would be less public and politic pressure on the government", says the official.