Editorial - Trail of fire - Friday, March 18, 2011

Source : http://thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=36833&Cat=8&dt=3/18/2011

The US airplane that whisked Raymond Davis out of the country following his release has left behind a trail of fire and blackened earth. The anger over the freeing of a man who gunned down two people in cold blood has already triggered protests. These threaten to accelerate with all religious parties agreeing that protests will be staged on Friday. They will be joined by lawyers and perhaps other groups outraged by the devious deal that underlies the closing chapter in the tale of Davis and his doings in the country. The Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf has already been out on the streets and various PML factions have also expressed their disappointment at the outcome of the case. The questions that have arisen from the manner in which the affair was handled continue to highlight many doubts and concerns. What agreements have been reached behind the scenes? Who was involved in finalising them and who was responsible for detaining the lawyer for the heirs of the victims? The central government has refused to provide any answers. There has been no comment from the prime minister or president and even the weekly briefing given by the Foreign Office as a matter of routine each Thursday was cancelled. The federal information minister has merely said the release came under Shariah law; the judge who delivered the verdict is reported to have gone on leave – ostensibly for security reasons. There is an element of mystery surrounding the role the Punjab government may have played or where the Rs 200 million paid as blood money actually came from. The US has denied making any payments and there is conjecture that the sum was removed from Pakistan’s own exchequer.

What we are left with, is a government which stands more discredited than ever before and a further erosion of our standing as an independent nation. We can no longer even claim sovereign status. It is quite obvious that our government is unable to take any kind of stand against the US or defend the rights of its people. The failure to tell citizens the truth makes matters worse and underscores the fact that we live in a state where deceit is the norm and underhand deals worked out behind closed doors determine far too many issues. This is not how a democracy should work. Nor is it viable to have a set-up in which people are so aggrieved with their leaders and feel that they are serving interests other than those of the electorate which brought them into power. The Davis affair had placed a strain on Pak-US relations. But it had also arguably offered Pakistan an opportunity to make things more even. This has not happened. Things are perhaps back to where they stood before. But while the government may have wheedled its way back into the favour of the US and perhaps won a few pats on the back, it has lost the trust of people everywhere in Pakistan. In time, it may find this is an enormous cost to pay; many will never forgive it for selling the soul of the country in this dastardly fashion. 

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