Raymond Davis is emblematic of the West’s relationship with today’s autocrats and dysfunctional democracies. His story highlights an impunity that the United States and its allies are discovering is very hard to cover-up in our digital age. The pro-reform groups, rallying in the Middle East, are not only speaking against leaders such as Mubarak and Gaddafi but also against polices of appeasement that sustain individuals like Mr. Davis.
These policies of appeasement allow military contractors free license to patrol and kill in Pakistan — in the case of Mr. Davis the ability to fire on his assailants 10 times, and to shoot one of them five times in the back, even apparently as one was fleeing away. These policies of appeasement allowed for a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, a mother of five, to be sentenced to death for “blasphemy” in Pakistan. These policies of appeasement allowed President Zardari to party in Normandy at his 16th century chateau whilst the flooding in Pakistan displaced over 20-million people in 2010.
Who are the benefactors of such policies? The answer: the military, religious zealots, and a feudal President who considers Pakistan as his god-given resource to exploit.
Some years ago I drew a cartoon of Uncle Sam disposing of a used condom (marked Pakistan) with a veiled Afghani woman cringing in the corner. It is easy to blame American foreign policy, as the cartoon shows. According to the Brooking Institute, for every militant shot dead by remotely piloted drone-aircraft in the border-regions of Pakistan 10 civilians end-up as collateral damage. It is a damning indictment of the controversial strikes sought to defeat militants living in the region.
However, this was not the point of the cartoon. What many Pakistanis did not want to see was their own Government’s culpability in this mayhem. Pakistan’s government has sold itself in the excess of $4-billion dollars a year — helping the US government wage a war in Afghanistan. With $4-billion dollars there is likely a surplus of earmarked money. This allows the Pakistani military to breed extremists like they breed foxes in England — ensuring an adequate supply of game, undermining claims that foxes are only killed in the name of pest control. Many Pakistanis despised the cartoon when published — the original stolen in 2005 from an exhibition in Scotland.
Henry Kissinger mentioned, at the Pike Committee Meetings in 1975, that, “covert action should not be confused with missionary work.” Arab demonstrators in recent weeks have called for a democratic regime change, not a US-facilitated transition to another despot. This will hopefully limit Washington’s covert actions in the region and from Americans deferring to local despots as necessary chattels for business and security.
Pakistan needs to deport Raymond Davis back to the United States. It doesn’t matter what he’s done — holding him accountable in Pakistan will not help address the real issues confronting the country. Letting Mr. Davies return to the United States will force Pakistan to look at itself far more critically.
Judicially trying Mr. Davies in Pakistan is not a successful long-term strategy. The Government of Pakistan has already sold its sovereignty. Courtesy of WikiLeaks, many Pakistanis now know that Prime Minister Gilani agreed to expand the CIA drone program in 2008, while promising to denounce it in Parliament for the sake of appearances.
It is time the people of Pakistan hold both Prime Minister Gilani and President Zardari accountable for selling off the last few vestiges of Pakistan’s sovereignty.
SHAHID MAHMOOD grew up in Pakistan. He was the editorial cartoonist for the national newspaper in Pakistan, Dawn. His work has appeared in numerous International publications including the Guardian, Huffington Post and Courrier International. Shahid’s work was viewed by world leaders at the 1997 APEC Conference, enjoyed by John F. Kennedy Jr., and managed to continuously enrage Benazir Bhutto. Shahid is internationally syndicated with the New York Times Press Syndicate; has work archived at the Museum of Contemporary History in Paris; and has been “Designated High-Profile” on the US Government’s No-fly List.