Pakistan, America and Bloodied Money

It looks like the United States of America now believes in the Sharia. On March 17, Raymond Davis got off by paying blood money to the families of the two men he had killed on January 27. Pakistan’s law minister Rana Sanaullah declared that Davis, supposedly a CIA agent, had been pardoned by the heirs of the murdered men as per the Islamic law where blood money (Diyat) amounting to Rs. 37 crore ($2.3m) was received. They had signed the papers in court.

One needs to know about the Pakistani establishment’s use of the Islamic laws. Will it pardon the killers of prominent politicians if they pay blood money to the families? If the law is so clear, then why did the authorities put up a fight against their own legal provisions and go around patting themselves for not buckling under US pressure? Does the government of Pakistan not owe its citizens proof of evidence regarding the receipt of the money as well as the nature of US involvement in the issue? How did the most powerful nation in the world agree to become part of such a transaction?

Why did America want Davis back? He is not innocent; he has killed two people that resulted in another incidental killing. What went on behind the backdoors of diplomacy that ‘proud Pakistan’ capitulated so easily and packed him off immediately? The court had indicted him and then quite suddenly within a few hours the families pardoned him. Are such families supreme in Pakistan and have a say in such matters?

It is regrettable that some commentators had been talking about the Pakistan-US fracas as giving an opportunity to fundamentalists. In a country where cases drag on for years, it has been only two months since the incident. The Taliban has been around and one Davis coming or going would not have changed that. While trying to put on a brave front against the CIA, Pakistan was really buying time with its own fanatic forces. If Faizan Haider and Faheem Shamshad, the two men Davis shot dead, were ISI’s snoops following him, then what exactly was their role? Elementary logic would suggest that the US would want to know more about that. Anyone under diplomatic cover, or any outsider for that matter, is routinely tailed in Pakistan. He would have been aware. So, were they ISI agents or someone else?

The incident has been extensively recorded. In brief, the two victims were on bikes; one took out a pistol when Davis was driving through a Lahore street; Davis took out his gun and shot at them. Initially, he stated it was in self-defence. However, on-the-spot footage shows that their backs were turned to him. Ibad-ur-Rehman was run over by the American vehicle. How so?

Davis was said to be part of a team investigating the Lashkar-e-Taiba’s operations. Did Davis get some incriminating evidence? Does the US need any to bludgeon ‘threat perceptions’? The arrogance is amazing. Cameron Munter, the US ambassador in Islamabad, has expressed gratitude to Pakistan and its people for pardoning Davis. Using Twitter the embassy conveyed the message from His Excellency: “I wish to express, once again, my regret for the incident...”

Gratitude to the people? The people are out protesting. The lawyers of the victims’ families were not allowed to meet their clients. By accepting such a pardon, the US government seems to have adhered to the role of the Sharia. Does it mean that it will now not interfere in Pakistan’s internal problems that will be sorted out using the same Sharia?

When the ambassador expresses regret, does it mean that he accepts responsibility for more than just the deaths, but also the reason for it? The US was probably in a tearing rush to get Davis before they got him because he may have more information about the US than about Pakistan.

It is surprising that the media refers to rightwing parties and Imran Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaaf organising demonstrations. Are the liberal parties and the liberal activists who have often exposed their own laws also not protesting? Why do they not come out strongly against this sell-out when they were all gung-ho about their country’s strong stand earlier?

This is as much a human rights issue as any other lynching. Only because it is an American with a gun, he cannot be pardoned. Is the money that has been reportedly paid tax free? Has it been deposited in the banks of the next of kin of the murdered men? Who according to the Sharia is entitled to this amount in the family? Have all these provisions been taken care of?

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denies that the US government has paid the money. If that is so, then on what grounds do they want Davis back? The government where a crime is committed conducts a criminal investigation and tries the person. There are reports that the money was paid by the Pakistani government with the help of Saudi intervention. The US has indicated that it “fully expects to get the bill” and will pay for it.

Sure, except that this isn’t a laundry bill. Someone has got to come clean. It is a dirty deal and there is blood in more than the money.

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Images: The News and Aaj TV, Pakistan

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Published in Countercurrents, March 19


  1. America's friendship with Pakistan is about as popular on the "American street" as Egypt or Saudi's is with Israel on the "Arab street."

  2. Ah, but Michael, the American street has to get driven by Pakistanis; the Egyptians and Saudis don't have Israelis driving missed daisies...or is it jasmines? That demarcates the 'friendship' perception a great deal.

  3. I have been watching few documentaries about current Afghan/American war and it seems to me that Pakistani military is hoping to milk this situation (like they did with the Mujahideen/Soviet) to obtain funds for the military. They probably are already getting it but nowhere near the scale that Zia got during 80s.

    Pakistan (just like all south asian countries) is highly unequal society with masses of poverty and unemployment. So, there are some natural grievances; like in the Middle Eastern countries but given that Pakistan largely defines itself through religious identity (also religion is the only countervailing force to the military dictatorship or corrupt politicians); so masses look to the mullahs for guidance and inspiration.

    Of course, given all that, it doesn't help that American Rambos are roaming around with "License to Kill". That is a prerogative of Pakistani Military only.

  4. Hitesh:

    Sure, Pakistan gets money form the US. Why is the US pumping in money when in tangible terms there are no safeguards?

    Despite it being an Islamic country, the religiosity you see is a more recent phenomenon. The Mujahideen were not naturalised Taliban. These things take time to develop. The reasons for the religious forces being against the Pakistani army is not due to any opposition of ideology but because of the politicisation of the army that leaves out a chunk of its Frontier segment.

    The Pak army often kills those the US does not like. It all goes round in circles there.

  5. Religiosity is a recent phenomenon even in Afghanistan. I have read about Afghan women in very modern university in Kabul. Mujahideen under Ahmed Shah Massoud were certainly secular (even if brutal militarily to both Soviets and "other" Afghans) as they were more concerned with their freedom and tribal loyalty than anything else.

    Of course, Pakistan is like pendulum. Starting with very anglicized aristocrat Jinnah to fairly liberal Bhutto family (notwithstanding elitism and corruption; Zulfikar sure was proud of his discos in Karachi). Then comes Zia and his ultra-orthodox regime. Benazir and then Nawaz Sharif (another Islamist).

    As for the Army, it is largely a fiefdom of Punjabi Rajputs; just like Bureaucracy in India is for Brahmins.

  6. You know the time bureaucrats were identified with safari suits one would have thought they were blue-blooded wildlife enthusiasts.


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