Pak media denounce "blood money" deal
Last Updated: Thursday, March 17, 2011, 23:04
Islamabad: The deal hammered out by the US and Pakistan to free CIA contractor Raymond Davis, arrested for gunning down two men, has not addressed larger issues that are causing friction in the ties between the two allies in the war on terror, the Pakistani media said on Thursday.

Davis, a 36-year-old former Special Forces soldier who shot and killed two armed men in Lahore on January 27, was acquitted and freed by a Pakistani court yesterday after families of the victims pardoned him following a "blood money" deal of about Rs 20 crore.

Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency and the CIA are believed to have played a key role in negotiating the arrangement.

Despite the resolution of the diplomatic row that had taken Pakistan-US ties to a new low, The News daily said in an editorial that a "raft of questions remains unanswered" and there was a "trust deficit of cosmic proportions not just between the US and Pakistan but also between the people of Pakistan and 'their' state".

The crucial issue of whether Davis had diplomatic immunity had not been addressed and the "ambiguity that now hangs in the air leaves the door open for similar opaque arrangements to that" which allowed Davis to operate in Pakistan, the editorial said.

Headlines in newspapers reflected the anger in Pakistani society over Davis' release.

"CIA killer walks free!" said the headline in The News while the Dawn, in a reference to the "blood money" deal under Islamic laws, headlined its report: "Davis buys his flight to freedom".

The release of Davis was "inevitable" and it was only a matter of time before he was freed "given Pakistan's dependence on the US, in particular for military aid", The Express Tribune newspaper said in its editorial.

It said the "murky nature of Davis's diplomatic status has to be shared equally" by Pakistan and the US.

While the US needs Pakistan in the war on terror, it "should be accepted that the balance of relations is tilted quite heavily in America's favour", the Tribune said.

"Had this incident happened between, say, China and America or even India and America, the result may have been different," it said.

"Our leverage with the US is practically non-existent precisely because we are heavily reliant on it for financial assistance, military aid and even for aid from the IMF, given that Washington exercises massive influence over its lending priorities," the editorial said.

There are "plenty of lessons" to be learned for Pakistan and the US as it appeared as if the alliance between the two countries might have been affected by the actions of one man, the editorial said.

"To prevent a repeat occurrence, the overall mechanism or system under which agents similar to Raymond Davis operate inside Pakistan may need to be re-examined and perhaps the standard operating procedure overhauled so that such an incident does not happen again," it said.

The News, in its editorial, said Davis' case was a "textbook example of how not to conduct diplomacy" and that there "must be a certain irony that both sides were apparently saved from further embarrassment by Shariah law".

Davis was flown out of Pakistan on a special US aircraft shortly after he was freed by the court in Lahore.

The US has contended that it had not made any payment for his release but media reports suggested that Washington would reimburse Islamabad for the payments made for the "blood money" deal under the Qisas and Diyat Law.


First Published: Thursday, March 17, 2011, 23:04

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