The Saga Of Raymond Davis

The US spy was set free by Pakistan, and thereby hangs a tale

Written by Khaled Ahmed | Published:July 15, 2017 12:20 am
cia, isi, raymond davis, contractor raymond davis, india pakistan relations, contractor, india news, indian express opinion Former CIA contractor Raymond Davis (AP Photo)

In January 2011, a CIA “contractor” carrying a diplomatic passport was caught in Lahore after he had killed two men. Raymond Davis has now written a book, The Contractor: How I landed in Pakistani Prison and Ignited a Diplomatic Crisis, which will predictably cause a lot of self-flagellation about how Pakistan didn’t kill an American spy after catching him “in the act”. The week’s gem came from ex-interior minister Rehman Malik saying Davis wrote a false account and that, “India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) had paid Davis to write the book in order to malign Pakistan’s army and democratic institutions.”

Davis tells a lot but doesn’t say what he was doing in Lahore, apart from one giveaway phrase: “I only know how to shoot guns and blow things up”, he had told his wife. He had killed two motorbike-riding boys at Lahore’s Mozang Chowk after they aimed a gun at him. He rang the US Consulate in Lahore for help as people gathering around him started looking like a lynch mob. His buddies from the consulate drove an SUV to reach him but ended up killing another man on the road. Thus, the Americans killed three Pakistanis during a period of bilateral tension between the two old allies.

In 2013, writing in The New York Times, Mark Mazzetti reported what Davis was up to in Pakistan: Get at Hafiz Saeed, the boss of old Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jamaat-ud-Dawa. Mazzetti wrote: “Davis wasn’t just another paper-shuffling American diplomat. His work in Pakistan was much darker, and it involved probing an exposed nerve in the already-hypersensitive relationship between the CIA and Pakistan’s military intelligence service, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI… Ever since the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba attacked Mumbai, India, in November 2008… CIA analysts had been warning that the group was seeking to raise its global profile by carrying out spectacular attacks beyond South Asia. This spurred the agency to assign more of its expanding army of operatives in Pakistan toward gathering intelligence about Lashkar’s operations — a decision that put the interests of the CIA and the ISI in direct conflict.”

In The mind of a Terrorist: David Headley, the Mumbai Massacre, and his European Revenge (2016), Kaare Sorensen had found that Headley had confessed that he got to al Qaeda in North Waziristan through Lashkar’s proxy warriors disgusted with the ISI for abandoning a forward policy on India and the US. Lashkar was the outfit developing an outreach that America feared. In Pakistan, the court had accepted that Saeed had nothing to do with Lashkar anymore, but no one really believed it. Headley, once an acolyte of Saeed, was finally jailed in America for working for al Qaeda.

Was Raymond Davis looking to assassinate Hafiz Saeed and were the gun-toting boys he killed a message to him from the ISI? That’s what some spook-watchers thought in 2011. Davis was in jail. The judges waited for signals. The Americans meanwhile had discovered Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad and didn’t want to rock the boat till they had killed him. The embassy claimed diplomatic immunity from prosecution for Davis because he carried a diplomatic passport; Pakistan didn’t agree. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi resigned rather than accept immunity for Davis, keeping his ear cocked to signals like everyone else in the Foreign Office. Finally, CIA chief Leon Panetta worked with ISI counterpart General Ahmed Shuja Pasha and both agreed to break the impasse. The meeting took place in Oman and it was agreed between Pakistan army chief General Kayani and his American counterpart Admiral Mike Mullen to free Davis under Islamic law.

Raymond Davis whose Pakistani defence lawyers heretofore tended to disappear mysteriously was “forgiven” by the numerous family and relatives of the three killed. Those who didn’t want to forgive under the law of diyat (blood money) were also made to disappear, till the 18 of them agreed to accept the $2.3 million paid to them by the ISI. Today there is much chest-beating in the social media in Pakistan about not hanging Raymond Davis. But, in statecraft, people like Raymond Davis and Kulbhushan Jadhav can’t be killed to satisfy dubious national honour.

The writer is consulting editor, ‘Newsweek’ Pakistan

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  1. A
    Arun
    Jul 17, 2017 at 3:04 am
    Disgusting that an Indian newspaper compares Jadhav with Raymond Davis. Shame on you, Indian Express
    Reply
    1. K
      kg
      Jul 16, 2017 at 4:17 pm
      OK, I give a reality check to you and your friends in Pakistani media dia has 1.34 billion people, out of whom, those living beyond Delhi's southern borders, and UP's western borders really don't give a hoot to your country.They don't speak Hindi, they are not in border state, to them Pakistan is as just a rogue terrorist nation , far away.If you don't trust me, take a tour down central and southern India and you will know.For the rest, those who speak or understand Hindi (mostly northern states), the collective and only opinion about Pakistan is "a nuisance creating neighbor filed with Islamic terrorists".That is it, really, we Indians care only that much about Pakistan.I see on Pakistani TV channels how obsessed and ill informed your "experts" are about India and Hinduism.But we don't care.Your ignorance is your downfall stead of writing about Pakistan in India, you should rather write about India in Pakistan, not for us, but for educating your own people.
      Reply
      1. V
        Vinay
        Jul 16, 2017 at 11:00 pm
        Well said bro.
        Reply
        1. B
          Beena Farhat
          Jul 17, 2017 at 6:24 am
          You people seem to have mental problem! Go to a neuro or psychiatrist or whatever!
          1. B
            Beena Farhat
            Jul 17, 2017 at 6:25 am
            You guys seem to have a mental problem! Go to a neuro or psychiatrist or whatever!
        2. M
          Murthy
          Jul 16, 2017 at 8:23 am
          I do admire the Sthanis for their skills in roguery !! They sold any number of American Military hardware and related information to the Chinese, reportedly, that included items like the shoulder-fired 'Stinger' anti-aircraft missile to parts of the 'Black Hawk' helicopter that was left behind during the raid on Osama bin Laden's Abottabad House. Then, they keep supplying the Americans, lot of information about the Chinese Military, including designs of Chinese supplied weapons - ALL transactions strictly against CASH or firing at the Indians at the LoC, at the same time as the Chinese creating ruckus at DokLam...or, supplying Nuclear Centrifuges to North Korea....Rogues have their own idea of 'profitable deals', sadly, America's CIA is also part is Attock District charlatanry....I am Glad though, India is not within this network of dirty games. However, I wish RAW had the brains to understand how nasty this area has been made by the Sthanis and had the guts to play the same game.
          Reply
          1. R
            Ramesh Nittoor
            Jul 16, 2017 at 12:51 am
            The second name in the last sentence suddenly gave a totally different context to the article. Eliminating Hafiz Saeed will not end terror operations from Pakistan. At best it will eliminate a specific set of potential threats. The war on terror is unworkable in subcontinental context, it will only aggravate terror infliction. It can not be eliminated the way s were eliminated. The only reliable way is to create political trust, so that civil law of Pakistan accounts for him. MMS team made this theoretically correct formulation for Mumbai terror. The conditions for creating political trust seem impossible. The required steps are many, but the biggest undermining factor is external. Unless Pakistan begins to perceive clearly how all nations in subcontinent have bled and contrast their backwardness with Chinese progress, are able to see Chinese design, and stop calling them as an all weather friend, terror infliction remains in subcontinent. Time now to stop this dogged barking.
            Reply
            1. S
              sara
              Jul 16, 2017 at 12:05 am
              Where is secularism, tolerance and equality in Mohamed's religion?
              Reply
              1. M
                Murthy
                Jul 16, 2017 at 8:11 am
                You may well ask !! We know some answers, but our Media lefties and libtards will NOT allow us to express them.... They protect a Fascist Ideology even while fighting, in their own words, "fascism"... Truth is they are Cowards and are also intellectually dishonest.
                Reply
              2. S
                sdas
                Jul 15, 2017 at 9:48 pm
                pakistan is run by two ROGUE organizations - the army and the isi. If there is normal law applied, the coas and the isi general would be in a jail for years. and their lying politicians - the less said the better.
                Reply
                1. V
                  Vin
                  Jul 15, 2017 at 5:56 pm
                  Equating Raymond Davis to Kulbhushan is incorrect. Kulbhushan's confession has been under duress and he was kidnapped from Iran. Let him be free in India and then ask him for confession.
                  Reply
                  1. V
                    Vinay
                    Jul 16, 2017 at 11:01 pm
                    Excellaent reply
                    Reply
                    1. B
                      Beena Farhat
                      Jul 17, 2017 at 6:29 am
                      If someone was kidnapped inside Iran, why doesn't Iran say so?
                      Reply
                    2. I
                      Ivan
                      Jul 15, 2017 at 4:56 pm
                      Sir, you are undoubtedly floating some trial balloons in an effort to suggest alternatives to free Mr Jadhav. The two cases however are not congruent. Mr Davis knocked some minor and inconvenient operatives who could always be replaced. But whether we like it or it Mr Jadhav has been linked to separatism in Balochistan. It will be a brave man indeed whether he is from the P a k i stan i, political, religious or defence realm, who will put his life on the line for Mr Jadhav. Many have died for less in your country. PM Modi should reflect on what his big mouth has cost. That said, like you, I do not believe that Mr Jadhav will face the death penalty. The Indian reaction will be unpredictable and Mr Jadhav is worth more alive, than dead to your establishment.
                      Reply
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