Where do you draw the line

A blog post at Express Tribune has been really bothering me. The post by Faiza Rahman is critical of the use of ‘personal choice’ as justification for certain behaviours like drinking alcohol. What bothers me is the question of whose ‘personal choice’ counts as being ‘selfish’.

Let’s apply the author’s thinking to her own situation. Faiza is an undergraduate student pursuing a major in political sciences at the Lahore University of Management Sciences. Certainly this will be quite upsetting to Taliban who do not believe that women belong in either schools or politics. In fact, these militants fundamentalists may well take significant violent acts in response to what they view as Faiza’s choice to violate the dictates of religion and social norms.

From the photo that accompanies her blog post, we can also see that Faiza does not cover her head in public. Taken a step further, she is not wearing niqab. Taken a step further still, why is she taking photos at all? Are not images of animate beings haram? Depends on who you ask, doesn’t it? In other words, to observe purdah or refuse photographs depends on ‘personal choice’.

Fazia asks a great question in her post: “The question is: where do we draw the line?” Fazia wants us to think about this from the perspective of how far can people exploit individualism, as if the country is under threat of anarchy in which every man and woman does whatever they want with no thought to consequences. But I believe we need to be asking the other side of the question: Who chooses what is demanded of religion? Who chooses what is a social norm that must be followed?

Fazia complains that her friend wore a sleeveless top and in response ‘the regular desi crowd behaving as expected’. Fazia tells her friend “she should have changed into something that showed less skin”. Why Fazia criticises her friend for wearing sleeveless kameez and not ‘the regular desi crowd’ for being immature jerks?

In Pakistan, drinking alcohol is officially banned. But it’s far from absent, and not just among the fashionable crowd. Even some very ‘pious’ uncles are known to sip a little whisky in private. Pressed on the issue they will explain that alcohol must stay banned because the less religious, more impressionable masses – sometimes called ‘the regular desi crowd’ – cannot handle it. Again it is clear that ‘personal choice’ in this case really means, ‘I will make your choices for you’. What should also be considered is that alcohol is the least of the problems facing the nation now.

Where do we draw the line is a question that is not asked enough, and it is not being asked the right way. People like Fazia Rahman want to draw the line for other people and they want to do so based on the reaction of the most conservative elements in society. According to her philosophy, whoever is the most fundamentalist their views should be respected. Whoever is the most tolerant, they should quietly conform to the conservative position so as not to upset the sensitive feelings of fundamentalists. This philosophy says that eve teasing is the fault of women, not men.

NFP had a great quote the other day that should be added to the national curriculum

‘My being or not being a Muslim begins and ends in my head. I am more concerned about the answers we Muslims are giving to those who are accusing us of violence and destruction. The state of Muslim intellectualism is the pits these days. We are collapsing inwards with outdated talk about  laws constructed hundreds of years ago by inflexible men and their followers who would like to see Muslim societies turn into static totalitarian societies! What is our intellectual response to all this? Is it science, philosophy and reason, or is the response only about nice, brightly smiling Muslims like you who are only obsessed about cramping as many Muslims in a mosque as possible? The intellectual and political space in Islam is being filled by theological dogma, self-righteous antics and mere ritual. Wake up!’

The fact is that complaining about drinking or sleeveless kameez is like complaining that the sofa does not match the chair while the entire house is on fire. The most severe problems in society are not the result of modern fashions or alcohol. They are the result of intolerant people who believe their own ‘personal choice’ should be the law for everyone else. There needs to be a line drawn, yes, but the people who need to be warned not to cross are not college students in sleeveless kameez but mullahs and militants who use threats and violence to force their own ‘personal choice’ onto other people.

Passive Voice, Passive Victims

There’s a great post on CHUP! today about The Brain Drain Curse. I highly recommend reading it as it makes an excellent point, and one that Shehrabo Taseer made recently in an interview: We can’t just give up Pakistan to fundo crazies and the lowest common denominator of citizen.

But there is one part of the blog post that I want to take issue with. Abdul writes the following:

Pakistan has been defiled and tainted by the Western media, and we have come to be recognized as a country of marked people. Not a day goes by without mention of some bomb attack or a suicide bombing. Everything, at once, seems to be going horribly wrong. Ministers are killed in broad daylight; the country’s sovereignty is breached on a daily basis, starvation and suicides have risen meteorically and politicians continue to make a fool of themselves.

First of all, Pakistan has not be defiled and tainted by the Western media. Western media did not bomb Faisalabad. Western media did not attack a funeral procession. Western media is not killing people. Pakistan is being defiled and tainted by jihadi militants and their sympathisers and facilitators in the country.

What bothers me about this, however, is the way that it uses so much passive voice to make us passive victims. “Ministers are being killed”, “the country’s sovereignty is being breached”…No. JIHADI EXTREMISTS are killing ministers. JIHADI EXTREMISTS are killing mourners. JIHADI EXTREMISTS are breaching the country’s sovereignty.

Dawn reported about a briefing by the military that showed that drone attacks are killing terrorists, and that a large number of those terrorists are foreigners who have violated the nation’s sovereignty – and they’re not Western media or CIA

The Military’s 7-Dvision’s official paper on the attacks till Monday said that between 2007 and 2011 about 164 predator strikes had been carried out and over 964 terrorists had been killed.

Of those killed, 793 were locals and 171 foreigners, including Arabs, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Chechens, Filipinos and Moroccans.

I was infuriated today when I read news reports about the bombing in Faisalabad that killed so many innocent people. The news reports added insult to the injury of the attack by making a mystery of those responsible. Look at what the IG Punjab is reported to say and how Express Tribune (one of the better newspapers) covered it:

Iqbal said the Punjabi Taliban had nothing to do with the blast in Faisalabad. He blamed a banned outfit for the bombing.

Taliban spokesman ADMITTED THE ATTACK. So why does IG Punjab refuse to say this? Instead he blames “a banned outfit”. Why not name the banned outfit? Why always make the obvious into a mystery?

Even if every bright young mind returns to Pakistan to improve the nation, nothing will get better as long as we refuse to face reality and say the name of our enemy. The biggest threat to Pakistan is not drones. It’s not Raymond Davis. It’s not Western media. It’s the damned jihadis who are killing us by the thousands. It doesn’t take a genius to see that.



Raymond Davis Debate Continued

My last post on Raymond Davis drew, as I expected it would, some pretty harsh criticism. This was expected and I was prepared for it. It is an emotional topic and as such it results in some emotional responses. I wanted to use this post to respond to some of the points that were made and also to continue the discussion because I think it’s important that we discuss these topics openly. Also I should note that I took some criticism for being ‘holier-than-thou’ and overly sarcastic especially with Dr Awab which I would also like to say was not my intention and I appreciate his responding. We don’t always agree on issues, but I think we can have a productive debate.

Following the last post, Dr Said Chaudhry posted the comment:

For the masses in Pakistan, the question is not whether they believes Raymond Davis is guilty or not (let the courts decide that), it is whether diplomatic immunity means an alleged double homocide perpetrator can walk away with just a few nights in a Lahore jail simply because he has a piece of paper that says “DIPLOMAT”?

This is an excellent description of the situation, and it helped me think about my own concerns on the issue. Let me say that this thinking is quite common but I think it confuses the issue in the following way – If Raymond Davis has diplomatic immunity, the court cannot decide if he’s guilty or not guilty because he is not subject to the jurisdiction of the court. So guilt or innocence has nothing to do with the question of immunity. Diplomatic immunity does not only cover petty crimes like auto violations but rather it covers all crimes. Therefore, if someone commits a cold-blooded murder and has diplomatic immunity then, yes, he gets to walk away scot-free. Such a result may be unfair, and it may be infuriating…but it is the way the law works. And if we expect the same treatment for our own diplomats then we have to grant it for those of other countries also. In other words the law doesn’t apply only when it is convenient to us.

I also criticised Dr Awab in my original post for terming the shooting “cold blooded murder”. Dr Chaudhry correctly notes that Lahore police chief Aslam Tareen has also termed it this way. But is it possible that the CCPO chief is mistaken or possibly influenced by public sentiment and not the facts only? I don’t suggest this out of disrespect but because I think things are less clear than they appear at first. For example, look at the statement of the CCPO:

“The investigation revealed that the motorcyclists did not point guns at Davis as the weapons recovered from them were not loaded.”

Why would it matter if the guns were loaded or not? Could it not be that the boys pointed the unloaded guns to put the fear of his life into the American without intending to actually shoot? But the American would not know that they did not intend to shoot rather he would fear for his life and assume that the gun was loaded, which would make it a case of self defense.

The CCPO also stated the following:

“We have proof in the form of eyewitness accounts and forensic reports that it was not a case of self-defence. Rather it was a clear murder,” he said.

But Najam Sethi wrote in The Friday Times that forensic reports showed evidence of self-defense.

Two men on a motorbike, armed with unlicensed pistols, held up Mr Davis’ car. He expertly shot them through the windscreen, stepped out and took pictures of the gunmen with weapons as evidence of self-defense. Later, an autopsy report showed that four out of seven bullets had hit the gunmen in the front, confirming the threat to him. The criminals had earlier robbed two passersby of their cell phones and money.

And Kamran Shafi wrote of eye-witness accounts supporting a self defense claim in Dawn on 1 February.

What I myself saw on the very day of the shooting, about two hours after the event, was the interview of a young man off the street, conducted by a loud and vociferous channel. When asked what he had seen the man said: “pistol” (“The two motorcyclists drew their pistols to rob the foreigner [using the near-pejorative term , or Whitey] who shot them dead”). This was repeated twice in a period of 30 or so minutes and then taken off air. This is what I saw and heard myself. It is pertinent to note that that young man has not been seen, nor heard from, again. Neither has any newspaper quoted what he said on record.

Far more than this, there are stories in the press that the police is hesitant to register cases of mobile phone and wallet snatching against the two, crimes that two people allege they committed a few hours before their encounter with David, for fear of a `backlash`.

So while it is true that CCPO Tareen termed the shooting “clear murder”, it is also true that this is only one account and that others who were actually at the scene of the incident saw it differently. I was not at the scene and so I cannot tell you exactly what happened. Probably you the reader were not there either, so you would not know also. This is what is frustrating me is how many people are saying so definitely that they know what happened when that is simply not possible.

Let us also consider a related point which is that having so many media reports and so many people deciding that the shooting was “cold blooded murder” before any courts have had a chance to hear all the facts and evidence has the effect of making any fair trial by a court impossible. Ambassador Najmuddin A Shaikh described the chances of a fair trial in Express Tribune as unlikely.

Perhaps equally importantly from the American perspective is that the chances of a fair trial and the acceptance of Davis’s self-defence plea would appear to be minimal, given the viral public reaction to the killing. Initial reports had made it clear that the police had evidence that one of the two motorcyclists had a criminal record and had earlier that day robbed a Pakistani of cash and a cell phone, but that report has now been overtaken by a report that the two men were from a Pakistani security agency and were keeping an eye on Davis. Another piece of news, the committing of suicide by the young wife of one of the victims because she felt that justice would not be meted out to her husband’s killer, has further exacerbated the ugly public mood. When this is the mood in the streets in a country where a public prosecutor cannot be found to present the case against the killer of Salmaan Taseer and where cases against known terrorists cannot be brought to a successful conclusion because the judges fear that a judgement against the terrorist would put their life at risk, there would, especially in the American perspective, be little chance of a fair trial for Davis.

Of course all of this is interesting to discuss, but the fact is that the only real question is as I stated before: Does Raymond Davis have diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention? If the answer is yes, then it doesn’t matter if it was a case of self-defense or if it was a case of cold-blooded murder. It also doesn’t matter what happened in Georgia or what happened with Abdul Salam Zaeef. Even if the law was not correctly followed then it does not mean that we should not follow the law correctly now. Personally I may want to see Raymond Davis hang, but immunity is immunity full stop. It’s not conditional on if it’s an outrage or if it’s inconvenient or if we made a mistake in the past. And Diplomatic Immunity can only be determined by discussions between the US State Department and the Foreign Office – not a CCPO, not LHC, and not bloggers including me. That’s the difference between rule of law and rule of mobs. Rule of law is sometimes infuriating, but rule of mobs is just…

Jamaat-i-Islami Rule of Mobs

Lastly, I want to mention one comment that accused me of being CIA because of my post. This to me is the most frustrating because it is a cheap shot that I hear used too often. We can differ in our views on America, Vienna Conventions, drone strikes, poetry, food and everything else – and yet we can also both have Pakistan’s best interests in our hearts. Calling people infidels and agents and questioning their patriotism because they don’t agree with you is not debate, it’s just bullying. We are better than that. I know this because even the commenter when he saw that his comment was posted was surprised and then left a comment that was actually thoughtful and debated a point that I made by giving me something to look up and think about. I wish that comment had been left only and not the first one with such accusations.

I quoted Mosharraf Zaidi at the end of my last post, and I’m going to do the same here because I think he has made another excellent point for all of us to think about:

Lessons for Pakistani? #Egypt revolution had ZERO conspiracy theories (those came from #Mubarak) & ZERO rabid anti-Americanism.

Progress happens when people engage each other in civil dialogue. I’m glad that we have a good dialogue going here, and I welcome anyone who wants to join in. I don’t claim to have the answers, but by discussing these issues rationally, I think we have the opportunity find some answers together.

Instant Experts…Just add Ghairat!

2-Minute Vienna Convention ExpertIt has been a bit interesting to see how many instant experts we have on the Vienna Conventions and international law. Everyone from local lawyers, to talk show hosts, to retired bureaucrats, to dentists have weighed in with their opinions on how to interpret the Vienna Conventions and instruct the government on how to proceed in matters of international relations.

For weeks now every newspaper and TV station has run headlines such as ‘Davis neither a diplomat nor fired shots in self-defence’. People like Asif Ezdi, a former Ambassador, are writing columns suggesting that, facts be damned, the government should decide issues of diplomatic law based on “the national self-esteem”. And that was one of the less strange opinions from the instant experts.

Pakistan Today wrote that “chances of his release are now hinged upon the approval of families of the deceased”. The Nation wrote that Davis “did not merit” diplomatic immunity and provides as argument against his release the tragic suicide of Shumaila Faheem.

The USA is insisting, in the face of all the evidence and all the law, that Davis is entitled to diplomatic immunity which would enable his release. The State Department spokesman Crawley, however, acknowledged that the suicide of the widow of one of Davis’ victims as a ‘tragedy’. The USA should realize that her death provides as additional reason against the release of Davis, apart from the fact that he did not merit it on the grounds of diplomatic immunity.

Even lawyers are coming out the woodwork to make pronouncements that don’t make any sense whatsoever. Mirza Shahzad Akbar wrote last week in The News, that Raymond Davis does not deserve diplomatic immunity “because he is not a diplomat”. Unfortunately, the esteemed lawyer in Islamabad gives himself away in his closing paragraph in which he states that this issue is not about hating America, and the proceeds into an anti-American tirade about “hegemony, self-righteousness and their…policies towards Palestine and Israel”.

Then of course there are the emails that flood my inbox from so-called “journalists” whose only published works appear on the sorts of websites that vanish as soon as sunlight appears.

But it’s not just the usual lawyers, retired bureaucrats, and operatives “journalists” who have become instant experts on the Vienna Convention as it also appears that our dentists are experts in the Vienna Conventions also!

Look at how the issue is being discussed on Dr Awab Alvi’s blog, Teeth Maestro. Dr Awab writes, “Raymond Davis an American National who shot and murdered two Pakistanis in open daylight with 27 bullets is under arrest in Lahore.”

There are several problems with this very first sentence of his post. First is the term “murdered”. Now I realize this is going to upset a lot of people, but the fact is that the term “murder” carries a specific meaning which is the unlawful killing of another human being with “malice aforethought”. Whatever Dr Awab might have decided in his own head, there has been no such conviction by any court. Nevermind, the esteemed dentist has already judged and prosecuted the American himself. No need for anyone in the Foreign Office to do their jobs as questions of diplomatic immunity are now being decided from a Alvi Dental Hospital in Karachi.

Dr Awab also claims that Raymond Davis shot “in open daylight with 27 bullets”. Now, I’m not one to question the investigative conclusions and legal pronouncements of a respected dentist, but wasn’t it Mumtaz Qadri who fired 26 bullets in open daylight into the back of an unarmed man? No matter, surely Dr Awab must be correct, after all he writes a popular blog.

But Dr Awab wasn’t done with just one blog post on the subject. He then posted again the same day declaring that Raymond Davis “killed two people in cold blood”. He then goes on to compare the Raymond Davis case to the case of Abdul Salam Zaeef and says,

“It sends chills down ones spine to note how ruthless the Americans were, total disrgard for humanity and no consideration for any Diplomatic immunity that Abdul Salam Zaeef may have under the Vienna Convention.”

Unfortunately, Dr Awab gets several points wrong in his posts. For example, the good Doctor writes:

I am sure the serving Ambassador had full Diplomatic Immunity as accorded to his status under the Vienna Convention…

Actually, no. Abdul Salam Zaeef did not enjoy the protections of the Vienna Conventions once the UN voted the Taliban as a terrorist regime. I suppose that Dr Awab must have missed the course on recognition of states and governments in his dental school.

What is even more strange, though, is that Dr Awab is not even suggesting that the Foreign Office recognize the diplomatic immunity of Raymond Davis as he seems to believe the Americans should have been done for Abdul Salam Zaeef. Rather Dr Awab seems to be suggesting that Pakistan match the “ruthlessness” and “total disregard for humanity” that he complains the Americans demonstrated in the Abdul Salam Zaeef case.

I would think he might take offense at the Foreign Office instructing him on the proper procedure to perform a root canal, though obviously Dr Awab has the right to post whatever ill-informed opinions he wants on his blog. But I do think it’s symptomatic of a larger problem which is that suddenly every Tom, Dick and Harry has become an instant expert on the Vienna Conventions and diplomatic immunity and this is only serving to create confusion about the issue.

For those of you interested, here is a link to the actual text of the treaty on the UN website. I have scanned it several times and have yet to find any mention of “national self-esteem”, tragic suicides, the approval of the families of the deceased, American “self-righteousness” or even root canals.

Now, I’m not going to play the role of judge, jury, and hangman myself. I’m neither a lawyer nor a diplomat. But I can read well enough to know that a good 99 percent of what is being reported is either totally false or completely irrelevant to the question of whether Raymond Davis is entitled to diplomatic immunity, and that this is a matter not for newspaper editors or dentists but for the governments of the involved nations to work out between them.

Mosharraf Zaidi sums everything up well on Twitter:

No prosecutors for the Taseer murder case. But soooo many Vienna Convention experts. It all adds up.

The worst of all of this is that while the entire country has become obsessed with carrying on painfully uninformed debates over the intricacies of treaties that they’ve probably never seen before and instant experts are popping up in drawing rooms and tea stalls across the country, every other problem facing the nation is virtually ignored.

Diplomatic Immunity

Raymond Davis Diplomatic Passport

Many are requesting that the courts decide the fate of Mr Raymond Davis. Others seem to be using the issue as a way to blacken the eye of the world power just to bring them down a notch or two. The second reaction is unconstructive and actually hurts our own image in the world more than the Americans. The first, however, missing the important point of diplomatic immunity.

The Interior Ministry has already determined that Raymond Davis was carrying a diplomatic passport and a visa that was issued following a security clearance. The US has invoked Article 38 of the Vienna Convention and requested that Raymond Davis be released to their custody. So regardless of what the police investigators or the LHC thinks, this is a case that hinges on the question of diplomatic immunity.

Ambassador Zafar Hilaly describes the question of diplomatic immunity as the responsibility of the Foreign Office, not the courts.

The fact of the matter is that Raymond Davis is, by the reckoning of most neutral observers, a ‘diplomat’ for the purposes of Article 38 of the Vienna Convention and hence entitled to diplomatic immunity. No court needs to decide that, only the Foreign Office does, because his status is a question, not of law, but of fact, and by refusing to do so the FO has landed the government in a far greater mess than it would have been in had it alluded to international law and said that, given the circumstances, it was helpless. Our politicos, too, would have had to lump it. Because what is likely to happen is that either the US shuts shop and stops dealing with Pakistan or, alternatively, informs Pakistan that the immunity of its diplomats in the US will be withdrawn. Of course, for good measure, it can stop issuing visas for the 1,800 or so diplomatic and official Pakistani passport holders who travel to the US annually.

At this time, it would be wise to revisit what exactly diplomatic immunity means. Let’s first dismiss misunderstandings by explaining what it is not. Diplomatic immunity is not a ‘blank check’ to commit crimes in another country. Rather it is an agreement between countries that they will not prosecute each others diplomatic officials for crimes, choosing instead to either overlook the act in minor cases such as traffic violations or expel the official in more serious cases.

Najam Sethi has been doing a great job of explaining the intricacies of diplomatic immunity on his new show Aapas Ki Baat. Blogger XYZ of Cafe Pyala covered the basic points a few days ago.

1) Irrespective of a non-diplomatic visa (which seems to have become the main issue for some channels), a diplomatic passport – as the US claims the killer has – may still grant the man known as Raymond Allen Davis* diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention. [*This is assumed to be a fake name.]

2) The Vienna Convention actually grants immunity to diplomats (and their technical staff) from ALL criminal prosecution. No diplomat or foreign mission operative may be arrested by a host country, no matter what their crime (except in cases of property). (You may verify this from Clause 29-31 of the Convention.)

3) Since the American government has claimed diplomatic immunity for Davis, the Pakistan government must either accept their claim or the Pakistan Foreign Office – as the constitutional authority to decide such matters – must dispute this status. The courts are not the arbiters of the Vienna Convention under Pakistan’s own constitution.

4) By claiming to leave the matter in the hands of the courts or the Punjab government, the Pakistan Foreign Office – and by extension the Federal government – is in violation of Pakistan’s own constitution which details how issues of diplomatic immunity are to be handled. The Punjab police and Punjab government were wrong only to the extent that they should have referred the matter immediately to the US Consulate or the Pakistan Foreign Office before arresting Davis.

5) There are some 50-60 such contractors working for the US Embassy in Pakistan, who are all Blackwater-type operatives and whose job involves spying and ferreting out leads to trace Al Qaeda and Taliban leadership. Under a secret treaty signed by the military government of General Pervez Musharraf, a Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) allows such operatives to work in Pakistan as well as Afghanistan. The important thing to remember here is that the military and the intelligence agencies are fully on board about this and know full well the mandate of these operatives. (This claim by Sethi, if true, of course flies in the face of those who have recently been painting Pakistan ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani as the principal villain in granting visas to these operatives, as if such visas are not overseen and approved by the ISI. It also means that those who point out that the Vienna Convention applies only to the discharge of official duties by diplomats and that Davis could obviously not be on any official mission at Mozang Chowk in Lahore, could be countered by the simple assertion by the US Embassy that he was.)

6) In case the Pakistan Foreign Office does decide to dispute diplomatic immunity to Davis, it will probably have to bear the brunt of reciprocal action from the US for reneging on a bilateral / international treaty.

7) Even if diplomatic immunity is denied to Davis, he will most probably be acquitted by the courts since his plea of self-defence will be very strong. As evidence for this contention, Sethi cited his own information that the two men killed by Davis were indeed brandishing weapons, that they were actually shot in the chest or on the side (contrary to news reports of their being shot in the back) and the context of previous attacks on foreigners in Pakistan and the atmosphere of fear that they have created.

Another point which should be considered is that diplomatic immunity works because it covers both countries involved. That means that our officials in America will be given the same treatment as we give. And as Ambassador Zafar Hilaly admits, we are doing the exact same thing, as are all countries. This is the cat-and-mouse game of diplomatic relations.

Of course, it is lamentable that nations lie and dissemble, and want gunmen and sleuths to be treated on par with diplomats in order to enable them to claim immunity from prosecution. But then, welcome to the real world. Lest we think we are any better, we have several Raymond Davis types in our missions abroad, trying to collect the same kind of information that he was. And, now and then, they too get caught and end up being repatriated, albeit without anyone being any the wiser.

Do you really believe that we don’t have our own Raymond Davis’s roaming in Washington, London, and Berlin? If that was the case, we should be taking the intelligence agencies to task for a failure to protect the national interests.

And while I know that it is quite the fashion to pretend that only angels come from the land of the pure, let us face the fact that we have cashed in some diplomatic immunity ourselves from time to time.

Coming to Pakistani diplomats invoking diplomatic immunity, let us recall the case of our Ambassador to Spain, Mr. Haroon-ur-Rashid Abbasi, who Pakistan withdrew from his post in 1975 without allowing prosecution when heroin was discovered in his suitcase.

Let us also recall the case of our longtime permanent rep at the UN, Ambassador Munir Akram in 2003 who was accused of assault by his then girlfriend. The US also asked Pakistan to waive immunity in that case, which Pakistan did not oblige. (The case was eventually settled when Mr Akram persuaded his girlfriend to withdraw the charges against him).

The Americans requested Pakistan to waive diplomatic immunity in the case of Ambassador Munir Akram, and we did not oblige their request. This was the right thing to do. Today, we are requesting that the Americans waive diplomatic immunity. Why would they?

Should Raymond Davis, or anyone, be allowed to come to our country and shoot us? Absolutely not. The government would be right to expel him from the country and issue a stern warning to the American embassy to ensure that their officials, advisors, and contractors are obeying the law.

Diplomatic immunity always sounds outrageous when the other guy invokes it. But it is important nonetheless. The fact is that we don’t know what will come in the future for our officials serving overseas, and we want to ensure that they are protected in any event. What happened on the street in Lahore is a tragedy. But let’s not take this tragedy of individuals and amplify it into a tragedy of nations.