Editorial : Davis rigmarole - Friday, February 11, 2011

Source : http://www.dawn.com/2011/02/11/davis-rigmarole.html

THE Raymond Davis affair has reached dimensions that could put further pressure on the already frayed US-Pakistan relations. The State Department may deny reports that Washington has threatened to cut off all contact with Islamabad, but the intense diplomatic pressure on Pakistan has become public. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has told Gen Kayani she wants Mr Davis freed, and a number of American lawmakers have flaunted their country`s superpower status by making clear all aid to Pakistan, especially the military part of it, would be cut off. There are reports that President Asif Ali Zardari`s March visit to the US may be called off, and that would invariably mean the cancellation of President Barack Obama`s scheduled visit to this country.

From the day Mr Davis shot dead two Pakistanis in Lahore, it is his status that has been controversial. Regrettably, neither of the two governments has been consistent in its stand on the mystery that seems to surround Mr Davis`s calling. The Vienna Convention goes in favour of the man`s release if it is confirmed beyond a shadow of doubt that he is a diplomat. However, his multiple `business cards` with varying identifications and the fact that he was carrying a gun which he had no hesitation in using against two Pakistanis, who were themselves — according to the Lahore police — armed, confound matters. It makes it difficult for the host country to decide which side of the Vienna protocol Mr Davis is on. From the point of view of Pakistan`s domestic scene, the issue is packed with dynamite, and a government as indecisive and infirm as the present one may find it difficult to ignore a possible backlash by the religious right.

Pakistan-American relations are far too important for the region and the war on terror to become hostage to an act of indiscretion on the part of an individual. While an aid-giver`s hauteur and a recipient`s predicament are obvious, Washington should realise it is quiet diplomacy that will resolve the issue rather than aid cut-off threats, which will be counter-productive and only add to anti-American sentiments in Pakistan.

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