DEATH IN QARTABA CHOWK
RASHEED HASSAN KHAN
On 27 January 2011, an incident occured in Qartaba Chowk Lahore, which shook the Pakistani nation and made them take stock of their position within their own country. An American citizen, holding a passport under the name of Raymond Davis, shot and killed two Pakistani citizens, whom he later accused of attempting to rob him. Davis, contacted some unknown person on his communication equipment and coolly took photographs of the scene of the crime. A crowd had gathered there in the meantime and Davis told them in Urdu that he had shot the two young men who were attempting to rob him. A SUV suddenly appeared from the opposite direction, probably, driven by someone he had contacted on his communication equipment earlier. The SUV crushed a motorcyclist under its wheels in trying to get to Davis. The crowd however refused to budge and the SUV turned round and made an escape. Then the police arrived and took Davis into custody and took him to the Police station. These are the bare facts, as could be gathered from the various accounts of the incident appearing in the media.
What transpired next was the stuff Hollywood films are made of. It transpired that Raymond Davis, the name on the passport he was holding, was not his real name and further, that he was not a member of the diplomatic corps at all, but an employee of a mercenary organization based in Florida, called Hyperion Protective Consultants LLC. and was working under contract for the U.S. Government! [ abc News and Huffington Post] The American Embassy entered the fray and demanded the release of “Davis”, claiming that he was entitled to diplomatic immunity. The Police wanted the surrender of the other SUV, which was responsible for the death of the third motorcyclist and the person who was driving it. The U.S. Consulate refused point blank, on the grounds of diplomatic immunity enjoyed by the subject. The situation at present can best be described as a tug of war between the two Governments, with the U.S. Government applying the maximum pressure using all available levers for this purpose.
Though much is being made of the sanctity of the Geneva Conventions, the U.S. in its own practice does not respect them as they expect the Government of Pakistan to do. It is on record, that a few years back the Ambassador of Georgia in U.S. was given a very heavy jail sentence for causing the death of a teenager in a road accident. The plea of diplomatic immunity entered by the Georgian Government was simply ignored. There are other similar instances too which show scant respect for the Diplomatic privileges of the diplomats from other, smaller, nations. It is the privilege of a big power to apply one set of rules for itself and another for the third world countries and smaller nations. Given this pattern of behavior, it is ironic that American establishment expresses bewilderment as to why people all over the world dislike U.S. Imperialism.
The overwhelming mass public opinion in Pakistan is against the acceptance of the claim of Diplomatic Immunity and letting the culprits go scot free. The public is in favor of bringing the culprits before a Court of Law and letting the courts decide the punishment for the crime of the cold blooded murder of three Pakistanis. The government, in the face of tremendous mass pressure has agreed to let “Davis” be tried by a court of law, but the whereabouts of the driver of the other SUV are still a mystery and presumably he is being given sanctuary in the U.S. Consulate in Lahore. It is the demand of the people of Pakistan that the U.S. Government hand over the culprit/ culprits forthwith, to the law enforcement authorities in Pakistan.
Whatever the outcome of this particular case, it has brought into focus serious issues connected with the operating procedure of the U.S. Government in Pakistan. The use of “private contractors”, a euphemism for mercenaries, employed by companies like Blackwater(Xe), Dyncorp, Hperion etc. and hired out to the U.S. Government are deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, is a politically expedient but morally questionable practice. For the people of Pakistan it is a totally unacceptable situation. It is inconceivable that hundreds of trained and armed mercenaries, whose very names are not known to the Government of Pakistan be allowed into the country and then allowed to roam free, working their mayhem at the will of their masters. No individual or institution is secure in such a situation. Life, property and honor of every Pakistani, from the President of the country to the man in the street, is vulnerable. It is the considered demand of the people of Pakistan, that the mercenaries already allowed into the country be accounted for and the U.S. Government asked to repatriate them to the U.S.A. Furthermore, those U.S. citizens who are working in ANY capacity in Pakistan, be subject to the Law of the Land.