VIEW: Sanity must prevail —Mohammad Jamil - Saturday, March 26, 2011

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VIEW: Sanity must prevail —Mohammad Jamil
Certain elements are trying to create a law and order situation by stirring the emotions of the masses and saying that the very honour of the nation has been sold by institutions like the army and ISI who were the prime facilitators of the deal

The legal battle over the double murder committed by American national Raymond Davis is over, as the legal heirs of the two murdered Pakistanis have accepted diyat (blood money), which is in accordance with the law of the land and Islamic injunctions. However, some political and religious leaders and media men question the hasty release of Raymond Davis after settlement between him and the heirs of Faheem and Faizan. Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly and PML-N key figure Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan formally declared that the military and the ISI played the main role in the release of Raymond Davis. Some irresponsible media men also share similar views without verifying them from the legal heirs of Faizan and Faheem, who reportedly received Rs 200 million as blood money. They cry hoarse about the government keeping the matter of his release so confidential and ask why the people were not informed about the settlement beforehand. But the matter of diyat is a matter between two parties, and these people have no right to question them. They should try to understand the demands of justice and nuances of foreign policy. Sanity must prevail to avert any disaster.

The fact remains that the present military top brass has more than once refused to buckle under American pressure. The issue of the Kerry-Lugar Bill showed American distrust in the political and military leadership. The nation remembers that the previous government used to hand over ‘wanted’ men to the US after just one telephone call. Despite tremendous pressure in the Raymond Davis case, the court held the trial for at least 45 days. This case received wide projection on an international level to the extent that US President Barack Obama called for Davis’s release and US Senator John Kerry undertook a visit to Pakistan, while contacts at the highest level continued day in and day out with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Yet, the government refused to buckle under pressure and release him on American terms.

Of course, the matter was decided by the court on the basis of charges framed against the accused, rational logic and conclusions drawn from the evidence and representing facts beyond any reasonable doubt. The Raymond Davis double murder case was a complex matter having political implications, as the murderer belonged to and was backed by a powerful superpower while emotions at home were fully charged without any realisation of the consequences. Yet the case has been decided by the court in accordance with Pakistani law and on Pakistani terms.

In a way, the US admitted that Raymond did not enjoy diplomatic immunity. However, the president, prime minister, chief of army staff and ISI chief seemed to be on the same page and there was consensus that they would implement the court’s verdict. They rejected pressure from US President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other members of the US administration who had lied about Raymond’s diplomatic immunity.

There is a perception that had it been the previous government, or if the matter had been left to politicians, Raymond Davis would have been released and gone back to the US the day he was arrested. Though some elements are trying to draw political mileage from this case, the fact remains that PML-N leaders like Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, Senator Pervez Rashid and even MNA Khawaja Saad Rafique vowed to accept the court’s verdict. As regards Raymond Davis’s release, the legal fraternity seems divided. Former Lahore High Court Chief Justice Dr Javed Iqbal and former judges Dr Khalid Ranjha and Nazir Ahmad Ghazi said that the law provides for diyat and the court had to accept it if both parties reached an agreement under diyat law.

Advocate Asad Manzoor Butt, who earlier represented the victims throughout the trial, believes that his clients agreed to diyat under pressure and not of their own free will. He mulled whether to raise his ‘detention’ matter in the court of law. But the legal heirs had reportedly cancelled his power of attorney (wakalatnama) and issued a new one in favour of another lawyer who prepared all the documentation for diyat. The court decision proved that President Obama was wrong in his emphatic statement favouring diplomatic immunity for Davis. The court decision also held in high esteem Islamic values in which the principles of clemency, compassion and forgiveness were followed to save human lives, including that of the murderer. But some religious parties, anchorpersons and media men wanted to be kept informed about the details of the court’s proceedings and negotiations between Pakistan and the US, and arrogate to themselves the right to accept or reject the government’s decisions or even the verdicts of the court.

Unfortunately, certain elements are trying to create a law and order situation by stirring the emotions of the masses and saying that the very honour of the nation has been sold by institutions like the army and ISI who were the prime facilitators/negotiators of the deal. They must realise that the army and ISI are subservient institutions of the government, and hence accomplish all tasks assigned to them. They, however, provide guidance to the government on matters that could have repercussions on national security. The Davis episode has provided the intelligence agencies with a reason to closely monitor the activities of foreigners who might have earlier enjoyed easy access to political high-ups due to the emergent dictates of the war on terrorism. A dispatch in an English daily reads: “According to a deal reached between relevant officials of Pakistan and the US in exchange for the release of US national Raymond Davis, as many as 331 US officials, most of whom are suspected of being engaged in espionage under diplomatic cover, have been identified to leave the country.” This, of course, is no mean achievement.

The issue of drone attacks should also be settled once and for all, as these attacks are proving counter-productive, and tribals should not be pushed against the wall as they could react horribly. Within 24 hours of his release, at least 38 people, including tribal elders, were killed in Datta Khel in the deadliest drone attack since 2006. It was claimed that the missiles missed the target and hit a local jirga that was being held over some dispute over the land. The most lethal drone attack, at a time when already protest demonstrations were being held throughout Pakistan against the release of Raymond Davis, further stoked anti-American sentiment in Pakistan. In reaction, Pakistan’s Foreign Office, in a strongly-worded statement, has conveyed its condemnation to US Ambassador Cameron Munter and has demanded an explanation and apology, adding that the strike was, “not only unacceptable but also a flagrant violation of all humanitarian rules and norms”. The chief of army staff has also taken exception to this drone attack that killed innocent people stating: “such attacks are neither justifiable nor acceptable”.

The writer is a freelance columnist. He can be reached at

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