unexpectedly, a Pakistani court last Wednesday (March 16) released the CIA
contractor Raymond Davis, the killer of two ISI agents in Lahore on January 27. The US secured his
release under a controversial Diyat law under which 18 relatives of the two
victims, Faizan and Faheem were paid $2.352 million as blood money. The release
of Raymond Davis, through a hush hush, court proceeding left many questions
unanswered that will haunt Pakistan as well as the US for a long time.
all, how a pro-US judgment was maneuvered. The trial was held behind closed
door in secrecy and the court order releasing Raymond Davis was announced only
after he had left Pakistan
in a special aircraft that was waiting for him at Lahore airport.
to media reports, some intelligence operatives shifted heirs of the victims of Davis shooting to some
unknown location three days before the trial. They are missing since then. Interestingly,
the court did not hear arguments of lawyers from any side and quickly framed
charges against Davis
and passed the release order.
Asad Manzoor Butt, who was supposed to represent the victim parties, was not
allowed to appear before the court. Butt says he was kept in detention for four
hours in a separate room by the jail authorities on the pretext that the court
will call him in. After four hour when he was set free, the proceedings were
over, he told The Nation expressing strong apprehensions that the legal heirs
have been coerced into accepting Diyat as till last nothing in this regard was
told to him by any member of the victim families.
According to the News, the Chief of the Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, through the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif played a key role in "convincing' the families of Faizan and Faheem that Raymond Davis would be released in any case and they would get nothing, so the best course was to accept money and forgive the American killer.
The US says that the blood money was not paid by Washington. It is
reported by Pakistan's
leading newspaper, The News, the blood money was
actually paid out by the Pakistan
government on the understanding that the US would "reimburse the amount
later at an opportune moment.'
the fact remains that the CIA contractor was released under the controversial
Diyat law that was introduced in 1990 by "enlightened' Benazir Bhutto to please
the religious lobby.
Nation reported that Washington agreed to
pursue Raymond case before the Pakistani court after Islamabad had suggested that the payment of
"blood money' to the families of the victims was the only and best solution
under present circumstances.
the Diyat principle was rejected by Pakistan's Supreme Court in 1979
when Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was tried and sentenced to death in a
murder case. Bhutto was executed in April 1979.
Diyat is a
controversial law as opponents have argued that under the law a rich person can
easily get away with cold blooded murder as happens in the case of Raymond
Davis. Besides Pakistan,
this law is enforced in Saudi Arabia,
Iran and Somalia,
according to Wikipedia.
Davis verdict has once again tainted the corrupt judiciary of Pakistan that
was gaining some respect under Chief Justice Iktikhar Ahmed Chaudhry who was
sacked by President General Musharraf when he refused to endorse General's
re-election in military uniform. Chief Justice Chaudhry was reinstated in March
2009 after a mass campaign.
judgment by Additional Session Judge, Mohammad Yusuf Ojla, who was sent on
leave to save him from public wrath, also reaffirmed perception that the US client government of President Asif Ali
Zardari is toothless and Pakistan's
army remains the main arbiter.
to the Nation, Davis was released after Pakistan's ISI
and American CIA reached an agreement to clear the dust in an attempt to
safeguard strategic partnership between the war-time allies.
Department spokesman Mark Toner, while welcoming the judgment said the United States was "deeply appreciative of the
victim families' generosity in pardoning" Davis.
"We respect Pakistan
for resolving the case within its own legal system," Toner said.