NationalVolume 12 Issue # 23

Law in a slave state

An American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employee’s memoir about his imprisonment in Pakistan for killing two men, and his release through coercive tactics lays bare the working of America’s spy network all over the world. It also reveals the US mindset to kill innocent people mercilessly and belittle other nations and trample on their laws to obtain desired results.

It also exposes our military and civilian leaders’ efforts to outperform each other to obey US diktats. The way our former military and civilian leaders helped former CIA contractor Raymond Davis out of his predicament proves how the laws of the country are applied differently to different people. His memoir indicates the Pakistani leadership has low self-esteem and what is happening with Pakistanis in other countries of the world is understandable. In the case, the Pakistani state proved that it considers its own people inferior to others and the blood of its citizens is also cheaper. It also points out flaws in our judicial system, which cannot provide justice to poor people and allows the wealthy to go scot-free even after killing people.

In his memoir, The Contractor: How I Landed in a Pakistani Prison and

Ignited a Diplomatic Crisis, Raymond Davis said he had no regrets over the killings, In fact, he appears to be proud of killing two people as his description of the scene portrays. “As soon as I saw the gun’s muzzle moving in my direction, I unclicked my seatbelt and started to draw the gun. My fastest time — including lifting my shirt, drawing my gun, aiming it and firing — was .95 of a second, while my average was 1.1 second. That’s about as long as it takes a hummingbird to flap its wings fifty times or a plane to travel 800 feet. I had left the house that morning with 17 rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber, and while defending myself at Muzang Chowk, I squeezed off 10 as I aimed for the two men on the motorcycle. And in a matter of two or three seconds, the entire engagement, from the moment I saw the threat to the moment it had been eliminated, was over.” He proudly tells his readers that the two men on the motorcycle who pulled in front of him at Lahore’s Muzang Chowk could not have known how fast he was at drawing his weapon. “Thankfully, all 10 rounds I fired found their intended targets.”

On March 16, 2011, which was his 49th day in jail, Davis appeared before a makeshift courtroom inside Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat Jail. “I imagine that at least one of his (Gen. Pasha’s) texts described the entrance of a man in a suit, whom I recognised but whose name I could not recall. As soon as this man entered the courtroom, the room went silent. No one spoke a word. If a cell phone rang, the person to whom it belonged got up and walked outside to answer it. The only thing you could hear was the ceiling fan. I asked a US embassy official who this man was, who identified him as an

ISI colonel and said: ‘He’s a fixer.”

Citing Carmela Conroy, then US consul general in Lahore, he reveals, “The women were indeed the ones taking it the hardest. Some of them had tears in their eyes. Others were sobbing outright. The new prosecutor, Raja Irshad, presented a signed document to the judge, showing that all 18 legal heirs of the two victims had agreed, at least on paper, to forgive Davis. The judge asked the relatives to prove their identity and then gave them $130,000 each for a total of $2.34 million, the largest amount of blood money ever awarded in Pakistan. After each relative had signed the papers, the judge asked if any of them had been coerced into doing it. All 18 relatives said no. The judge also reminded both the defence and the prosecution that they were entitled to object. Neither did.” It sums up the pathetic situation of the justice system in Pakistan.

After the release of the memoir, all politicians, who had played a role in the release of Davis, have blamed the former military leadership for it. In fact, they are guiltier than others because they are public representatives and supposed to protect people and their rights. The incident also highlights serious flaws in our legal system. Besides, it exposes the US interference in the affairs of other countries. No wonder, strong anti-US sentiments exist in Pakistan and other countries of the world, where it is interfering in their internal affairs. According to Davis, the two men he had killed were robbers. If they were really robbers, he would have been released by the court in weeks. Instead, the US adopted its much trusted arm-twisting tactics to show its real face to Pakistan, its own people and other countries of the world.

Earlier, he also recounts how former ISI chief Shuja Pasha was “clearly committed” to ensuring that the deal for his release was successful. “Gen. Pasha was also responsible for replacing the original prosecutor, Asad Manzoor Butt, who was working pro bono at the behest of Jamaat-i-Islami with Raja Irshad, who was more beholden to ISI than any religious group. The plan to rescue me by paying blood money hinged on the acquiescence of the 18 family members of the victims and ISI agents applied as much pressure as needed to get them to accept the diyat”.

With the support of the first prosecutor, several relatives resisted the plan. “To separate the family members from the radical Islamists whispering in their ears and the lawyer who endorsed a hard-line Islamic agenda, ISI operatives intervened on March 14, 2011, detaining and sequestering all 18 of them. On the night before the March 16 trial, ISI agents took the family members to Kot Lakhpat jail and encouraged them to accept the deal. They were told that if they forgave me, they would be given a large sum of money in return. If they did not, the consequences of that decision were made clear the following morning when they were reportedly held at gunpoint just outside the prison’s courtroom for several hours and warned not to say a word about it to the media,” Davis describes.

“When Butt (the lawyer) arrived at the prison that morning, he received similar treatment. … Butt was never able to see or talk to any of his clients. The shock of being denied access to the man who’d guided them through their country’s convoluted legal system for more than a month, and forced to agree to a deal that many of them did not want, was evident on their faces as they shuffled to the front of the courtroom on March 16”.