Davises and ‘Mikes’ - Anil Datta - Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Source : http://thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=36262&Cat=9

The shooting of the two young men by Raymond Davis in Lahore on Jan 27 was only the latest incident in which Americans have carried out violence against Pakistanis. However, the crime carried out by the sharpshooter called “Davis” (whose real name the State Department has refused to reveal) was the first time an American running an errand for his government killed Pakistanis in cold blood.

Last summer, the US embassy in Islamabad had settled out of court two cases of hit-and-run mortalities caused by its vehicles. The embassy paid out blood money to the victims’ families under Pakistan’s Qisas and Diat laws. The reported compensations were a modest ten thousand dollars each.

The Lahore tragedy in which Faizan Haider, 22, and Faheem, 20, lost their lives was compounded by the Land Cruiser of the US consulate general, speeding the wrong way to pick up Davis to prevent his arrest: it crushed a third motorcyclist, Ubaidur Rahman. Days later, the teenage widow of one of Davis’s two victims committed suicide.

The driver and passengers of the Land Cruiser are believed to have been spirited out of Pakistan.

The US government claims diplomatic immunity for Davis. However, in the more than six weeks since the shooting, it has come to be known that the 36-year-old sharpshooter is a professional security contractor, a euphemism for mercenary.

However, even Davis did not cite diplomatic immunity when he was arrested, as he would have done as a matter of routine – and right – if he indeed had diplomatic status. Instead, he took the plea of self-defence.

He informed police interrogators he was a “consultant” at the US consulate-general in Lahore. It was later that the American government insisted that the man was an employee of the US embassy in Islamabad, and thereby “our diplomat,” as President Obama referred to him.

Among the organisations for which Davis is known to have worked are the CIA and the notorious Blackwater, renamed XE Services. The unlicensed weapon he used to shoot the motorcyclists in Lahore’s crowded, traffic-choked Mozang area is the advanced Glock pistol, which fires extra-lethal flat-nosed bullets and is used only by trained professionals in Davis’s specialised trade.

Unlike Davis, Americans Tire Johnson and a man only identified as “Mike,” for whose extrication money changed hands, had actually based in Islamabad.

Johnson was an officer of the force protection department of the US embassy. Just before dawn on July 25 last year, he hit and killed a teenager standing beside his motorcycle. Then he fled, with the motorcycle’s wreck riding above the front bumper because it was meshed with his car’s grille. Jawwadur Rehman bled to death. On June 4, “Mike” had hit 45-year-old Muhammad Yameen at the capital’s Constitution Avenue.

Fortunately, there was no casualty when an American diplomat, reportedly drunk, ran a red signal in Islamabad in October 2009 and rammed a fire-brigade vehicle of the Capital Development Authority.

Back in 1960, when I was a boy living in Lahore, a speeding pickup belonging to the US air force communications base then existing in city knocked down a woman and her child at Ferozepur Road. A press photographer who happened to be present at the scene was prevented at gunpoint from taking the photograph of the corpses.

Before the Pakistani media woke up, as it has now, many incidents and crimes involving Americans had taken place over the decades, with little attention given to them by the press. However, the crushing of the mother and child had caused uproar in the press back then. Which is why I still remember the name of William Bridges, the American who grabbed the photographer’s hair before his colleague pulled out the gun at the journalist.

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