The Raymond Davis situation has brought to light several claims of American double-standards, especially as it relates to Pakistan and international law. This is a distraction from the issue at hand. Just because a man is a thief, it does not give you the right to steal from him.
In a discussion on Twitter, yesterday, Dr Awab Alvi wrote:
“Obama “urges” #Pakistan to release #RaymondDavis | Mr Obama the world urged #US to release 445 Guantanamo detainees !! What happened?”
I must admit I was confused by this statement. I responded to Dr Awab:
Agree that Obama should close Guantanamo, but do the detainees have diplomatic immunity? U R comparing apples to peaches again.
When Dr Awab explained his remark, I thought he had something of a point – if the US doesn’t consistently follow international law, why should we?
While I agree that Dr Awab has a point, I don’t think it’s a good one. Actually this bothered me for several hours. Is he right that the US uses double standards in its own practises? Yes, absolutely. But does that mean that we should do the same? Absolutely not.
This got me thinking about this justification, which I hear quite often – any time someone criticises something that we’re doing, we answer by pointing out their own hypocrisy as if two wrongs really did make it all right.
Israel’s policy of being a homeland for the world’s Jews means that the large and growing population of Muslims has been effectively resigned to a second-class citizenship. I don’t know a single person on the face of the Earth who believes that Israel’s discriminatory policies are anything but injustice. How many protests have I seen (and participated in!) demanding an end to this injustice?
And yet in our very own constitution there is a clause that does the same thing. I’m not an Ahmadiyya, and I am embarrassed to admit that I don’t really think about it very often. But while we are angrily denouncing Israel for discrimination, the fact is that we are doing the same thing.
Or consider the Raymond Davis specifically. Everyone is trying to find something to compare it to (Aafia Siddiqui, Guantanamo detainees) even though there really isn’t a good match. So let’s stop trying to find a match and look at the basic issue: People don’t want to return Raymond Davis to the Americans because they want ‘justice’. The guy did, after all, shoot two people.
But let me ask when we suddenly became so confident in justice? I’ve had a good laugh at people quoting the Lahore police chief, especially since there are several problems and inconsistencies with his story, and after years of hearing the same people complain about the police being unfair. Let me ask another question – would you leave the fate of your son up to the neutrality of the Lahore police?
Or the Lahore High Court for that matter? We’ve watched over the past years as the police arrest militants, take them to court, and the court opens the doors and lets them walk free. We say we want justice, but the signs in the street say ‘Hang Raymond Davis’, not ‘give Raymond Davis a fair trial’. Even then, Ambassador Najmuddin A Shaikh says the chance of him getting a fair trial is unlikely.
It’s a popular argument to point out the other guy’s flaws in order to distract from the weakness of your own argument. We like to tell others – especially the Americans – that they don’t have the right to question us because they do bad things. We should be asking ourselves about the strength of our own moral authority. Do the Americans have double standards? Yes. But until we get rid of our own double standards, who are we to complain about it?
I said before, we can follow the rule of law or the rule of mobs. In rule of mobs, it is simply might makes right. And if ‘might makes right’, it justifies Raymond Davis shooting because he was mightier than the people he killed. And it justifies a mob hanging him in the street because a crowd is mightier than one man. And it justifies killing Shias in Karachi, Sunnis in Iran, Muslims in Palestine…It’s just madness and murder unleashed.
In the rule of law, you follow the rules even when maybe you don’t like the results. If the Foreign Office has certified his diplomatic status, this means turning Raymond Davis over to the US Embassy. By following the law, we will have the moral authority to demand that Senator John Kerry keep his word and the Americans hold a criminal investigation into Raymond Davis’s shootings. If we don’t follow the law, we have no right to complain.