Even If Raymond Davis is an intelligence officer, will he still have diplomatic immunity?

The following post by Feroz Khan was originally published at PakTeaHouse.net and provides an interesting perspective on the issue of diplomatic immunity and intelligence agents. Many people are saying that if Raymond Davis is not wearing a suit, or carries a gun, or has CIA ties then he cannot be a diplomat. But is this really the case? Could he be an intelligence agent and still have diplomatic immunity?

If Raymond Davis is an intelligence officer, he still will have diplomatic immunity. The intelligence community is a very small world and when a diplomat is accredited to a foreign country, the host country is notified about the posting and the person who who will be posted.

In this case Pakistan would have been duly informed by the United States that Raymond Davis will posted to Pakistan and in this case, Pakistan had the option to allow him into the country or not but the fact that Pakistan accepted his posting and issued an official visa to that affect means, legally under international law, that Pakistan accepted his credentials and that automatically conferred the status of a diplomat upon him.

Even if he is an intelligence officer, the protocol in this case would have suggested that Raymond Davis be considered as a “persona non grata” and asked to leave the country. When a diplomat is arrested for anything in a country in which they are posted, the local law enforcement authorities immediately notify their superiors up the chain of command.

In this case, once Raymond Davis was arrested, the police after ascertaining his identity should have notified the Interior Ministry and then the Foreign Office. Foreign Office is responsible for issuing visas to diplomats and once a diplomat is posted to Pakistan, they first go to the Foreign office and present their credentials as a sign of officially taking charge of their assignment and then, they are asked by the Foreign Office to formally present their credentials to the President of Pakistan as a sign of formally being accredited to the host country.

Thereafter, the Foreign Office informs the Interior Ministry that a diplomat, accredited to Pakistan, has assumed their duties. The Interior Ministry is responsible for all law and order issues in Pakistan and is the nominal head of all intelligence services working in Pakistan.

 

In the case of Raymond Davis, chances are that he would have not meet Asif Ali Zardari as he was more of a consular worker seconded to the United States Embassy than a principal diplomat, but it does mean that once his posting to Pakistan was suggested and his credentials provided to the Foreign Office; the Foreign Office would have consulted with the Interior Ministry on his posting and his personality and the Interior Ministry would have sought informational input from the various intelligence services and researched his background.

Once the Interior Ministry would have confirmed the bona fides of Raymond Davis, the Foreign Office would have issued him the visa, which is only a document that gives a foreign national permission to enter a country. In this case, the visa would have been an official one and once that issue was issued in conjunction with his work as “aide” to United States’ diplomatic staff in Pakistan, Raymond Davis would have meet the most basic conditionalities of Vienna Convention’s classification of a diplomat.

A diplomatic immunity is conferred by the host country and it can be rescinded at any time, when a diplomat accredited to a country breaks or violates his/her terms of diplomatic status. In the case of Pakistan and Raymond Davis, the most preferred course of action would have been for the Foreign Office to rescind his diplomatic immunity and declare him as “persona non-grata” and ask him to leave the country.

Furthermore, the police can only arrest a person accredited as a diplomat if and only when his/her credentials are rescinded and that too only after consultations between the host and the guest country agreeing to the fact that a diplomatic immunity is to be denied.

It cannot be unilaterally removed by the host country and this is due to the principle of “sovereign immunity” in international law (basically this caveat means that a foreign nation cannot be sued without its permission and this idea historically comes from the divine rights of the kings, where the European monarchs sought protection from acts of parliament – specially after Charles I of England was executed by Oliver Cromwell; a parliamentarian) under which a guest country’s diplomat cannot be arrested or charged with a crime WITHOUT the permission of the guest country itself!

Parentically speaking, all heads of state are entitled to sovereign immunity and it is intended to prevent them from being legally charged in the due process of their official duties and in the case of Pakistan, it implies, technically and theoretically, that General Zia-ul-Haq could not have charged Z. A. Bhutto with murder without Bhutto’s permission! It is the same idea that prevents George Bush, Jr. and his administration from being charged with any crime they might have committed, under international law, while in office.

As I said elsewhere, international law is observed more in the breech than in the observation of its intent.

In this case, when Raymond Davis was arrested, his diplomatic immunity was valid and even after the arrest, the Foreign Office did not cancel his official status in the country and when, under such stipulations, consular access to Raymond Davis was denied; Pakistan stood in violation of the Vienna Conventions.

Raymond Davis is alleged to be quilty of killing two people directly and a third person indirectly; and therefore he is alleged to be quilty of a double murder and man-slaughter. There is no denying this fact, but this fact is obscured by the formal procedural requirements of international law, based on its conventions and treaties, and the fact that these formalities were not observed and this event, which could and should have been handled on a diplomatic-official level was allowed to be victimized by political considerations fanned to the extreme by an overly agitated and hyper-nationalistic press-media of Pakistan.

As to the jurisdiction of the courts in this matter, Pakistani courts have no jurisdiction in this matter because to the best of information available, Pakistani Foreign Office has still not officially invalidated Raymond Davis’ official status, but seems to have confirmed it.

As long as Raymond Davis remains officially credited as a diplomat by the Pakistani Foreign Office, he cannot be detained and his detention in the present circumstances can be easily classified as ‘unlawful arrest” and this issue in a legal, and more importantly in a procedural sense, still falls under the purview of the Pakistani Foreign Office and it is for the Foreign Office; not the courts to decide whether Raymond Davis can be tried in a Pakistani court.

If and when the Foreign Office withdraws Raymond Davis’ official status in Pakistan, after discussing the matter with the United States and the United States agrees to the condition, only then Raymond Davis can be charged and tried in a Pakistani court for the crimes in he committed in Pakistan while on official status.

Pakistan cannot refer this case to the International Court of Justice because in order for the International Court of Justice to hear this case, it needs the concurrence of both parties to the dispute, Pakistan and the United States, that the case shall be referred to the International Court of Justice.

The correct procedure in this case would be, and this also strongly confirms and reinforces the purpose of John Kerry’s visit to Pakistan, that Pakistan declares Raymond Davis as a persona non-grata and expels him from Pakistan without charging him. The next step would be for the Foreign Office to instruct its embassy in Washington D.C. to file a case against Raymond Davis in the Supreme Court of the United States, which has the constitutional jurisdiction to hear cases involving the United States’ government and foreign governments. Pakistan has a solid case in this regard and if it follows the due process of the law and the right procedural mechanisms, there is a very good possibility that “justice for all” can be achieved without underming Pakistan-United States bi-lateral relations.

On a point of addendum, it should be noted and clarified that this case has no similarities with the case of Dr. Affia Siddique and should not be compared with that case, as the legal circumstances are entirely different.

Dr. Affia Siddique was arrested at the United States’ military base at Bagram, Afghanistan. According to international law and its intentions on the matter, a country’s military base on a foreign soil is to be considered in much the same sense as a country’s embassy on a foreign soil.

In other words, Bagram base was technically speaking “United States’ sovereign soil” and Dr. Affia Siddique was arrested for crimes committed on “United States’ soil” and therefore could be arrested, tried and charged in a United States Court and sentenced to jail term in a United States prison.

The United States’ embassy in Islamabad is considered as “United States’ soil” and Pakistan’s embassy in Washington D.C is considered as “Pakistani soil”. In a similar sense, the Indian High Commission in Islamabad is considered as “Indian soil” and Pakistani High Commission is considered as “Pakistani soil”, where the laws of the guest country apply and not those of the host nation!

To further illustrate this point, there was an incident in the 198os, when Germany was still divided into East and West Germany and the Cold War was still raging, when an East German airliner was hijacked and forced to land at the United States military base in West Berlin.

An airliner, under international law, is considered as the “soil” of the country, where it is registered and in this case, it was an East German airliner. Therefore, the act and the crime of hijacking was committed on the “soil” of East Germany, but the aircraft landed in a West Berlin military base belonging to the United States and therefore, on American “soil”.

Once aircraft had landed, the persons who had hijacked the aircraft, to seek asylum in the west, were arrested by the officials of the American military police and housed under arrest on a United States’ military base. East Germany asked for their return claiming that the act took place on its soil and they should be judged by its laws and the United States’ State Department agreed with this view and decided to charge the persons with violating the international law of hijacking and once found guilty, to send them back and the trial to this effect was to be held on the premise of the United States’ military base in West Berlin. The defense lawyers argued that international law did not apply in this case, as the arrest was affected on American soil and therefore, the laws of the United States would take precedence over international laws in this matter because though the crime was committed in East Germany, the persons were arrested in United States and thus, they had right to the full due process of the law as guaranteed under the United States’ constitution.

In the end, they were judged according to American laws, because the presiding judge in his verdict noted that though the crime was committed in East Germany, they were arrested by members of the United States’ military police, which operated under the United States’ legal jurisdiction and were performing their duties on a United States’ military base, which was considered as an American “soil” under international law and therefore, the laws of the United States, and not East Germany or international laws, were applicable to this case. According to the judge, the laws of East Germany or international legal jurisdiction could be considered over United States’ legal jurisdiction in the matter only if the United States’ government had given its sovereign consent to this idea and since it had not; the United States laws would be considered as supreme in this matter!

I remember perfectly well, when my late father was posted as a diplomat to Ottawa, Canada in the early 1980s, there was a fire in the Pakistani embassy there in the middle of the night. The Ottawa Fire Department first contacted the Pakistani embassy and once it officially got the permission, it entered the premises to put out the fire because technically speaking; had it entered the Pakistani embassy without permission and gone in as the Canadian law gave it every right, the Ottawa Fire Department would be invading “Pakistani soil!” (lol)

Therefore, in this case international law prevailed over domestic law and in the case of Pakistan and Raymond Davis, international law will prevail over Pakistani laws until and unless, there is an agreement between United States and Pakistan over this issue and international conventions are put aside in the favor of Pakistani laws.

 

Their double standards…and ours

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.

Wanted: Principled Leadership

The Raymond Davis saga took a turn for the worst over the past few days as principled leadership on the issue has been sacrificed on the altar of political ambition and populist groveling. The explosive statements of former Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has changed his reputation in the media from an American puppet to a Ghazi almost overnight. We should stop and ask ourselves if what is really going on is as it is being spun in the media (that would be a first) or if perhaps this new story line is once again not exactly as it seems.

FM Qureshi with US Secretary of State ClintonFirst let me say that a lot of people have taken to attacking Mahmood Qureshi, which is unfortunate. He’s not a bad guy. Actually, he’s really smart and capable man, if a little out of his element lately. Trying to define him as a demon does not do anything for the case of reason and rule of law over rule of mobs. Unfortunately, those same people who would demonize him as an American puppet last week are now ready to present him with his very own laal topi and declare him as one of the faithful. So let’s throw out all the self-serving statements and take a look at the facts.

Qureshi’s recent behaviour is unfortunately not out of the ordinary. Between Rehman Malik’s telling that he will kill blasphemers with his own hands and Babar Awan‘s trying to trade Raymond Davis for Aafia Siddiqui as if he were a bakriwallah bartering in a market and not Law Minister – too many of our politicians continue to play to the populist gallery rather than provide real leadership on hard issues.

When I first read Malick’s column in the The News I thought, ‘this is rich’. Suddenly the Americans’ darling Mahmood Qureshi is now their victim? The whole thing seemed a bit too tidy to me. It was just too convenient a headline. But there was more to the article than simply the headline that bothered me.

According to Malick, this supposed story starts in a high level meeting in Islamabad that was attended by President Zardari, Prime Minister Gilani, Babar Awan, Rehman Malik, Shah Mehmood Qureshi and the DG ISI Gen Shuja Pasha. Let’s stop here for a minute. If this is the cast of characters who was in attendance, it means that one of them has to be the leak. Reading the rest of the article, it’s clear that the source for Malick’s article is none other than Qureshi himself. This becomes even more clear as more articles begin pouring into the media with quotes from Qureshi which shows that the man whose silence got us into this mess is now incredibly accessible to every journalist in the country. So we must ask what is the purpose of Qureshi leaking his own story to The News which is not exactly a mouthpiece for the government?

And let’s consider Qureshi’s previously impenetrable silence, can we? The shooting that started this whole mess happened three weeks ago. According to Qureshi now, he has “strongly argued the case that Raymond did not enjoy unlimited diplomatic immunity under law, flatly refused and even said that if need be, he’d rather resign”.

Really? Since when? Because everyone has been demanding that the FO decide the question of diplomatic immunity for weeks and Qureshi was nowhere to be found. If he was really being pressurized to act against his convictions and was so adamant about resigning rather than facing the tune, why did he never resign? In fact, it’s only since he’s been sacked that Qureshi has suddenly found this adamant conviction on the issue.

And then there’s the issue of Qureshi’s sacking, which wasn’t really a sacking at all. When the PM dissolved the cabinet in order to reduce the bloated number of ministers and began making reappointments, it was decided to offer Qureshi a new portfolio – Water and Power. Unfortunately, Qureshi felt that he deserved foreign affairs, and if he wasn’t given the position he wanted, he was going to take his ball and his bat and leave the game. In fact when he was supposed to be sworn in as a cabinet minister, he didn’t bother to show up at all, rather he sent a terse note saying, “I am not interested in water and power ministry in place of foreign affairs”. This is a curious response to the offer of a cabinet portfolio, a position for which only a handful of people are selected out of the 180 million citizens. Could it be that Mr Qureshi’s reason has fallen prey to his personal ambitions?

And rather than a punishment, offering a cabinet position to Qureshi was actually something of a token. After all, has there not been constant frustration with his performance as FM over the past years? Manmohan Singh blamed Qureshi personally for his poor handling of talks last summer. This was an ongoing problem that Qureshi had, pushing his Indian counterparts away when it was his job to hold talks and find solutions to issues. And it was under Qureshi’s guard that India has become considered for membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group, while Pakistan remains without a civilian nuclear deal. Also he has taken great criticism from diplomats such as Tayyab Siddiqui for his comments on Iran.

He skipped the SAARC meeting in Bhutan last month, and in the midst of the negotiations over Raymond Davis, he even skipped a meeting with an American delegation last week. More on that point: As I stated earlier, if Shah Mahmood Qureshi truly felt so  adamant about Raymond Davis’s status, why was he silent and missing in action for the past weeks? Why did he not make statements when it could have mattered? If he was actually being pressurized, why did he not resign then? He said himself that he would have kept his position of FM if it was offered, so don’t try to have it both ways please.

And let’s not forget that it was only a few short days ago that the Foreign Office under the leadership of FM Qureshi stated that Raymond Davis at a minimum does enjoy at a minimum “partial immunity”. Then Salman Bashir calls the newspapers and says that if he committed some immoral act, he would not request diplomatic immunity for himself, which is essentially admitting that Raymond Davis does have diplomatic immunity, but it is annoying to the FO. This is another example of the failure of the foreign office by trying to have everything both ways. Whether or not Salman Bashir would invoke diplomatic immunity is irrelevant – Raymond Davis has invoked it. If Qureshi was unable to make a decision one way or the other, the country needed someone in the Foreign Office who could.

But the problem is not just Qureshi’s failure to act on principle. We’re also seeing other leaders like Babar Awan trying to barter Raymond Davis for Aafia Siddiqui as if Islamabad was filled with goat traders at a market, or Altaf Hussain comparing apples to peaches by saying that “Just the way US court gave the decision of Dr. Aafia’s case, US must also wait for Pakistani court’s decision on Raymond’s case”. Whether or not Aafia should be repatriated, she has no claim to diplomatic immunity, so her case is nothing like that of Raymond Davis.

Last fall, Shah Mahmood Qureshi warned against being influenced by concocted messages sent through media over Pak-US relationships. He now seems to be playing the same game. Unfortunately, he is not the only one doing so. It is now three weeks since the tragic incident that has brought diplomatic relations with the US to stand still. As Foreign Minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi could have ended this mess weeks ago by declaring Raymond Davis’s status one way or another. But when Qureshi had the opportunity to speak, he was silent. Now that his opinion carries no consequences to his own skin, suddenly he has found his voice. Elsewhere, our political leaders are asking the courts to help them out of a difficult situation and making populist speeches and goat trading to protect their own hides. The courts are telling those responsible in government to please do their jobs. Outside in the street it is the same as in the media – we are blinded by ghairat when the situation requires objective reason.

Again let me state that I do not think any of these are bad, dishonest, or incompetent people. I think the problem is one that is a larger problem in society. We allow issues to be hijacked by people who use emotional blackmail to keep us from using our brains. As a result,  good and capable men lose all sense of reason and proportion.

At present, everyone appears to be playing hearts and demanding to take the trick. But spades are trumps in this game, and diplomatic immunity is the ace of spades. If Raymond Davis plays the trump card, he takes the trick no matter how many hearts are thrown. But we should also keep a sense of proportion. The Raymond Davis case is only one trick and it is not for game. We need to stop acting like it is for all the chits. We need leaders with the courage and principles to play by the rules instead of trying to upend the table when they don’t like their hand.

Credibility of Justice System

If you have not read Babar Sattar’s column in Saturday’s The News, ‘Asking the right questions’, I recommend you do. The esteemed lawyer makes the most well reasoned arguments about Raymond Davis that I have read to this date.

After carefully reviewing the pertinent laws, Babar comes to a wise conclusion:

Most of us want to see Raymond Davis prosecuted and punished for the murder of Pakistani citizens. But let us not forget that it is not the award of harsh punishment but fair administration and enforcement of laws that remains a gauge of how just a legal system is. We must not allow anger, resentment, bravado or street opinion to affect the quality of justice produced by our courts. An adverse ruling creatively interpreting the law to deny Davis the benefit of Pakistan’s Diplomatic and Counsellor Privileges Act might bring instant gratification for many but will put in jeopardy the neutrality and credibility of our justice system. And that will do us more harm than good.

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.