Death by ‘diplomat’ - Saturday, January 29, 2011

Source :

‘Shoot first, ask questions later’ appear to be the watchwords of Mr Raymond Davis, a technical adviser at the US consulate in Lahore. There is no dispute that he shot two men in broad daylight. His first shots were fired through the windscreen of his car, and the tight grouping suggests that Davis was not an amateur when it came to firearms. There is no dispute either that he got out of his car and appeared to use his cell phone to photograph the men he had just shot – who may or may not have been trying to rob or kill him. Amateur footage taken at the scene shows a pistol lying beneath a motorbike, and a holster is clearly visible on the belt of one of the dead men as he is wheeled into hospital. The other man to die at the hands of an American on Thursday afternoon was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was hit and killed by the back-up vehicle summoned from the US consulate in Lahore by Davis. Three dead within the space of minutes, and a host of questions.

The car that Davis was driving had false number plates. He was not on diplomatic duty at the time of the incident, and does not appear to have been one of those authorised to carry a firearm in order to protect diplomats. Davis himself is not a diplomat – the mere fact that he had a gun tells us this. Diplomats, even in Pakistan, never carry guns personally. Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said on Friday afternoon that Davis would not be accorded VIP protocol; and he was duly remanded to six days physical custody at the Cantonment Court on Friday. We need to hear, in a court of law, how these three people met their ends, and the invocation at any point of diplomatic immunity must not be an option. Taking the unsupported word of anybody under such circumstances (Davis claims to have fired in self-defence), be they American, Pakistani or any other nationality, is unacceptable. Equally unacceptable is the apparently routine carrying of firearms by some (not all) foreign staff accredited to diplomatic missions. This is no longer an academic debate. An American has killed two of our nationals; another has run over a young man and killed him. In doing so they may have done a great deal to harm the already tattered image America has in the eyes of many Pakistanis. We need to see these men standing in a court of law to answer charges, anything less would be a shameful travesty of justice. We also need to see, with the utmost urgency, a definitive statement by our government relating to the carrying of weapons by foreign nationals. There are enough trigger-happy lunatics on the loose, so let us not give anybody else a licence to kill.

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