Thursday, February 10, 2011

Major Incident Brewing Between US And Pakistan Over American Diplomat Held For Murder

According to Pakistani sources, Obama's National Security Adviser Tom Donilon summoned Pakistan's Ambassador Husain Haqqani to the White House and delivered an ultimatum - release American State department employee Raymond Davis, now being held in Lahore for killing two Pakistanis, by February 11th or face the consequences.

According to the Pakistanis, those consequences included declaring Haqqani persona non grata and revoking his visa, closing US consulates in Pakistan and canceling a scheduled visit by Pakistan's president to Washington.

For the record, Ambassador Haqqani formally denied that any l threats of extreme measures occurred.

Davis was in Pakistan on a diplomatic visa, and the U.S. has demanded his immediate release on the grounds of diplomatic immunity.

What happened depends very much on whom you talk to and what you believe.

Davis says he killed the two Pakistanis because they had been following his car and were trying to rob him. Davis is on tape after the killings showing his State Department credentials to Pakistani police officers and saying, "I'm a consultant."

Except the two apparently weren't just typical street thugs - according to the Pakistanis, they were agents with Pakistan's notorious ISI intelligence service, and they were tailing Davis as a spy.

According to them, Davis was asked to leave a restricted area of Lahore by the military. His cell phone was tracked, and a number of his calls were made to Waziristan tribal areas, where the Pakistani Taliban, Lashkar e Taiba and other jihadist groups have what amounts to a safe haven.

Another interesting piece of the puzzle: If Raymond Davis' actions seem a bit aggressive for your typical State Department employee, it's because he has a Special Forces background and now runs a company called Hyperion Protective Consultants, whose stock in trade is similar to Blackwater, providing private security.

According to the US Embassy, Davis was a "member of the technical and administrative staff" of the embassy in Islamabad. They had no comment about why he was armed or what he was doing for the embassy.

As you probably know, relations between the US and Pakistan's ISI are not particularly good. There's a long history of the ISI covering for terrorists and hamstringing US efforts to bring them down. Back in October for instance, the ISI 'mistakenly' released the name of the local CIA station chief, forcing him out of the country.

Adding to the turmoil, the killings have become a political issue in Pakistan, where the mostly America-hating populace frequently accuses the Zardari government of being a US tool.Stories of US spies running amuck in Pakistan appeal to the paranoia/conspiracy theory fetish of the Pakistanis, so this story is made to order.

And to make it even more perfect, The wife of one of the dead men committed a nasty and very public suicide after being interviewed on television.

"I do not expect any justice from this government," Shumaila Kanwal said. "That is why I want to kill myself.

"I want blood for blood," she said. "The way my husband was shot, his killer should be shot in the same fashion."

What this smells like is that Davis probably was doing something covert that needed doing, something the ISI didn't want done. He was apparently doing too good a job, because the ISI sent out two hired guns to make him conveniently disappear.Instead, both of them wound up taking a dirt nap.

The fact that the Obama Administration is willing to go to the mat to get him released means he probably knows something we badly want to find out.If he was just your average American consultant, there's no question in my mind the the Obama Administration would just let him rot rather than - Allah forbid!- offend any Muslims.

It remains to be seen how this ends up. Davis was hauled before a Pakistani court without a translator and without prior notification to the U.S, according to the Islamabad Consulate. Both of those are extreme no-no's when it comes to dealing with persons under a diplomatic passport, but again, this is Pakistan.

The biggest carrot, of course is the $2 billion a year bribe we give the Pakistanis for 'helping fight the war on terror.' Of course, it's really just a handling fee, baksheesh to Pakistan because 75% of the supplies for our warriors in Afghanistan come through the Pakistani port of Lahore and byroad through Pakistani territory over the Torkhum Pass.

And that little factoid is what Pakistan has over us.

Davis is scheduled to appear in court again tomorrow.

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