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WD
Web Desk
February 15, 2011
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The Davis effect

Sports

WD
Web Desk
February 15, 2011

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An incident on a Lahore street in which three people died, two shot and one crushed to death, has sparked a chain of events that have increasing regional and international gravity. The Davis affair’s latest casualty in purely human terms is our ex-foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, whose refusal to recognise Davis as a diplomat or accord him immunity ultimately cost him his job. Qureshi’s principled stand earned him the disapproval of Hilary Clinton who wanted his head on a plate – and got it. The Foreign Ministry has been parked for the time being with Hina Rabbani Khar, something of an unknown quantity in terms of expertise in foreign affairs. Another casualty are the trilateral talks between Pakistan, Afghanistan and the US which were scheduled for 23-24 February – but not anymore. These were part of an occasional but essential dialogue between three key players, and to find them on ice will do nothing to advance the quality of the already shaky communication between them. The reason for the ‘postponement’ is said to be because of ‘political changes’ in Pakistan. American officials in Pakistan have stated quite bluntly that there will be no high-level discourse until the resolution of the Davis affair.
And then there is the Silence of the Drones. It may be purely by coincidence or it may not, but there has not been an attack by drones anywhere in Pakistan since Davis was arrested. The last such attack was on January 23. Davis was arrested on January 27. Could it be that somebody in the US administration worked out that continuing the drone strikes was going to make a bad situation even worse? The highest-profile casualty may be the meeting between President Zardari and President Obama. It will be remembered that Obama made a commitment to inviting Mr Zardari to Washington after he chose not to visit Pakistan before or after his recent trip to India. A failure to offer a date to Zardari would be the diplomatic equivalent of having a shoe

thrown at you. There were rumours, later denied, that our ambassador to Washington had been warned of a possible break in diplomatic relations unless Davis was released; and there are reports that President Obama made a brief call to President Zardari on Friday evening – itself an unusual event. The Davis affair is increasingly toxic. Perhaps Ms Rabbani will prove a little more compliant than Mr Qureshi. And perhaps America will think a little more carefully before sending its gunmen to do a diplomat’s job.

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