Cutting off the nose… - Kamran Shafi - Tuesday, February 01, 2011

BEING the rather unique people we are, as demonstrated by yours truly many a time in this space, we are proceeding to do just that: cutting off the (our) nose to spite the (our) face in the matter of Raymond Davis David.

He is alleged to be, variously, a spy, a Blackwater operative, a security guard and a US diplomat. There are as many stories about the man in our press as there are reporters in the newspapers, not one of them leading the reader to any conclusion. Ghairat Brigades

In just one day we are regaled by differing accounts in different newspapers: one saying David had overstayed his visa by two years, another telling us his visa was valid until 2012; one saying he was not a diplomat, yet another telling us that he was an `official`, and so on and so forth. I have been following this case since the day of the shooting, have read every word written about it, and have to say that I am most confused. Nothing makes sense at all — a lot of which has to do with the conspiracy theorists and the and their spin quacks putting a spin on any aspect they can get their hands on. Motor cycle sawaron nein nikaley aur goray ko lootnain ki koshish ki jiss peh goray nein unnko goliaan marein gora

What I myself saw on the very day of the shooting, about two hours after the event, was the interview of a young man off the street, conducted by a loud and vociferous channel. When asked what he had seen the man said: “pistol” (“The two motorcyclists drew their pistols to rob the foreigner [using the near-pejorative term , or Whitey] who shot them dead”). This was repeated twice in a period of 30 or so minutes and then taken off air. This is what I saw and heard myself. It is pertinent to note that that young man has not been seen, nor heard from, again. Neither has any newspaper quoted what he said on record.

Far more than this, there are stories in the press that the police is hesitant to register cases of mobile phone and wallet snatching against the two, crimes that two people allege they committed a few hours before their encounter with David, for fear of a `backlash`. Ghairat Brigades

Is this in itself a case of the dishonestly trying to turn the situation into an ugly one for the government, and for generally queering the pitch even further for American-Pakistani official relations? Is this yet another conspiracy to throw yet another spanner in the works with regards to the war on terror? None of which, of course, is to say that the Americans have done what they should have done in the very first instance: give a clear statement on just who the man was, what the circumstances of the shooting were, and then stick to it.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, their holinesses are upping the ante on the alleged move to amend the anti-blasphemy laws despite the fact that the terrorised and scared government has foresworn any such intention. Indeed, their holinesses should take heart from the craven way in which the Senate chairman refused to allow Senator Nilofer Bakhtiar`s motion condemning the brutal murder of governor Salman Taseer, and from MQM Senator Abdul Khaliq Peerzada`s refusal to lead the Fateha. If the so-called secular parties refuse to even offer Fateha for the departed soul of a man who was (totally falsely) purported to be a blasphemer himself, what chances are there for the blasphemy law being changed/altered? This is politics, pure and simple, the protest meeting addressed by Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Munawwar Hassan, Maulana Samiul Haq, Qazi Hussain Ahmed and other worthies in Lahore on Sunday using both the Tahaffuze Namoos-i-Risalat campaign and the David affair to inflame the passions of the people. It is another matter, of course, that one of the WikiLeaks cables told us in clear words that Maulana Fazlur Rehman actually put himself up to the American ambassador as a possible Pakistani prime ministerial candidate. Ghairat Brigades

But going back to the David affair, it is astonishing to note that the so-called anti-America are using the most ludicrous examples to try and prove how the Americans have been unfair to Pakistan and other countries when it comes to observing the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. The two examples it gives most recently (Sunday, Jan 30) through stories in the press is of my friend Munir (Dopey) Akram allegedly assaulting his live-in girlfriend when he was our ambassador to the United Nations, and of a North Korean diplomat who was hauled up when he groped a woman in a public park. They actually refer to the second incident as `a minor case of very little significance`.

The fact of the matter is that if Munir Akram was not Pakistan`s ambassador to the UN and supported to the hilt by the government of Pakistan and by the extreme right media in this country, he would have faced a jail term, as would have the North Korean. These are not `minor cases of little significance` at all and sections of our mainstream press referring to them as such only goes to prove what misogynists they are. They should be grateful that the Americans helped us out of a very sticky situation.

In the instant case the law must take its course, David neither being treated harshly because he is an `ugly American`, nor being treated with deference just because he belongs to the country that keeps us in bread and tanks and F-16s. Let the whole, unvarnished truth come out and let it be released in the public domain.

Which reminds me: let those who are demanding that David be torn limb from limb for committing murder, also demand that Salman Taseer`s killer be tried in a court of law for his horrible crime. Let them demand too that future suicide bombers and their facilitators be exposed and hauled up to face the full force of the law. There is much that is wrong with our country which we can fix if we want to; merely latching on to events to divert the people`s attention simply will not do.

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