Editorial - Pressure mounts - Friday, February 11, 2011

Source : http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=30479&Cat=8&dt=2/11/2011

With little public sign of resolution, the pressure is mounting on Pakistan to release Raymond Davis without delay. This matter always had the potential to turn into a full-blown confrontation between ourselves and the Americans, and aside from holding the accused in a double-murder case we seem to hold few bargaining chips. The latest turn of the screw is that the US has suspended all high-level contacts with our government and this could negatively impact a number of forthcoming events. The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, cancelled a meeting she was due to have last weekend with our Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi. Both were attending an international security conference in Munich, and their meeting was cancelled in protest to our continued detention of Davis. Our Ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani, has been called twice to the White House to receive formal complaints and demands for Davis’ release. The American Ambassador to ourselves, Cameron Munter, has visited the president to discuss the matter. A shadow now falls over the crucial and long-planned summit including Pakistan, Afghanistan and the US at the end of this month. If this is scuttled due to the fallout resulting from the Davis affair, it will take months to reschedule, and the trust deficit that exists will have widened meanwhile.

At the core of the current difficulty is a differential interpretation of precisely who and who should not, be allowed to claim diplomatic immunity, a differential based on inconsistencies between local law and international law. International laws and treaties have to be codified locally in order for states to act upon them. Our responsibilities and rights under the Vienna Convention are defined in the Diplomatic and Consular Privileges (DACP) Act, 1972. The DACP is not a ‘cut and paste’ of the Vienna Convention, and there are differences between the two, one of which relates to immunity. Legal technicalities aside, there appears to be expert consensus that supremacy rests with local laws and that Davis is therefore subject to the law of the land as expressed in the DACP 1972. It is then up to the courts to act in accordance with local law, and with no reference to international laws or treaties that have no local standing. The Americans are taking a literal position regarding the Vienna Convention and seem to be wanting to ride roughshod over our Constitutional law. Much is now at stake, and yesterday’s recognition of ‘partial immunity’ for Davis by our foreign office may be the device which allows both sides ‘wiggle room’. Three of our citizens are dead at the hands of US citizens; a fourth is dead as ‘collateral damage’. We must not allow ourselves to be bullied into a position where we are by some sleight-of-hand presented as the ‘baddies’ in this shootout. And Uncle Sam needs to understand that might is not always right.

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