Shaky relations in Pakistan

Shaky relations in Pakistan

March 19th, 2011 in Opinion Times

Pakistan's release this week of American Raymond A. Davis, who shot two Pakistani men to death in Lahore and was later acknowledged by the United States to be a contract security agent for the CIA, partially closed an incendiary chapter in American-Pakistani relations. But his hurried departure from Pakistan on a U.S. flight to Afghanistan has done little to erase public anger there over the secret campaign being waged by American agents against the Taliban in Pakistan that has now been revealed.

Davis' arrest in the killings caused an uproar. He was arrested after he shot and killed the two Pakistani men, who he claimed had tried to rob him at a traffic signal in Lahore. Pakistani media reports refuted that, saying the men were shot in the back. After it was revealed that a police examination found other weapons and a silencer in Davis' belongings, speculation focused on his suspected role as a CIA contractor who allegedly was in the country to track Pakistani Taliban and other militant figures.

The Obama administration had insisted that Davis was a diplomat attached to the U.S. consulate in Lahore and was entitled to diplomatic immunity. It was only after British papers revealed his CIA connections - he lived in a house with five other CIA contractors - that the Obama administration admitted his real role.

That admission, moreover, came after Pakistani officials agreed to allow dismissal of murder charges against Davis, and after the U.S. indirectly agreed to the "blood money" payments - several million dollars in legal compensation in Pakistan for injuries and deaths - to the victims' families, and pledged continuance of some $3 billion in promised aid money to the government this year.

The Davis affair has further marred relations between the two governments and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, which has long been accused of organizing and aiding Pakistani Taliban to keep strife going in Afghanistan. It has further confirmed the shaky underpinnings of U.S. reliance on Pakistan as an ally, and the burdens and mistrust that plague American efforts to contain not just the Taliban, but also the security of Pakistan's formidable array of nuclear weapons.