Raymond Davis: Media’s Daily Fix
Ever since January 27th Raymond Davis has become a household name in Pakistan. Ironically, in Davis’ home country not many (read that public) seem to care about that ‘diplomat’ who shot dead two men in Lahore’s busy intersection, apparently in self defense.
The Pakistani media’s belabor about Davis is never ending. From making Davis’ possessions and documents public to ‘no money-no water’ video to false reports of Davis’ angry reaction to Azan blasting from the loud speaker to his ‘naswar’ addiction. Yesterday one of Pakistan’s leading English dailies and seasoned journalist came up with quite an unconventional and totally unnecessary piece of news according to which Davis might be addicted to ‘naswar’ – (chew) – that is made, sold and used in the Khyber Pukhtunkhuwa.
So who cares if Davis is addicted to ‘naswar’. This news don’t serve the purpose of a ‘gossip’ either. Besides, America has its own version of chew that Davis might have been using. It hard to understand why a journalist of Mariana’s stature would write on such a trivial issue.
On the other hand, the more intriguing piece of news reported by today’s Guardian was that Davis was a spy working for the CIA. Urdu press has already been coming up with countless conspiracy theories linking Davis with either Xe or CIA. However, if we already knew about the presence of Xe in Pakistan and if some of us are aware that every embassy has its undercover intelligence agents involved in espionage than of course we shouldn’t react with utmost shock.
There may be another angle to this Davis saga. Although the ISI isn’t confirming the status of those two men shot by Davis but it could be possible that they might have been spying on Davis. Moreover, the report in Guardian tries to connect pieces together taking the reader briefly into the ongoing cold war between ISI and CIA, which may have been one of the reasons for the prolonged gap in the drone strikes. (Recent drone strike reported on Feb 21st).
Here are some of the interesting snippets from the Guardian report:
- A number of US media outlets later learned about Davis’s CIA role but have kept it under wraps at the request of the Obama administration, which fears that disclosure could inflame opinion in Pakistan and possibly put Davis at risk.
- The episode has badly damaged relations between the CIA and the ISI, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency. Some reports, quoting Pakistani intelligence officials, have suggested that the men Davis killed, Faizan Haider, 21, and Muhammad Faheem, 19, were ISI agents with orders to shadow Davis because he crossed an unspecified “red line”.
- A senior ISI official denied the dead men worked for the spy agency but admitted the CIA relationship had been badly damaged. “Their tactics of using good cop, bad cop do not work. We are a sovereign country and if they want to work with us, they need to develop a trusting relationship on the basis of equality. Being arrogant and demanding is not the way to do it,” he said.
- Tensions between the spy agencies have grown in recent months. The CIA Islamabad station chief was forced to leave in December after being named in a civil lawsuit, and the ISI was angered when its chief, General Shuja Pasha, was named in a New York lawsuit related to the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
- Although the two spy services co-operate in the CIA’s drone campaign along the Afghan border, there has not been a drone strike since 23 January – the longest lull since June 2009. Experts are unsure whether both events are linked.
It is quite apparent where Davis stands, how the Punjab government is playing that episode more importantly the way Foreign Office falter in handling the matter. For as long as the dust doesn’t settle down the media will keep feeding the nation with the daily fix of Raymond Davis.