Raymond Davis Case: Obama Fires Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Qureshi

Little did anyone know at the time that the huddle would instead end up deciding the fate of Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.




by Mohammad Malick


When powerful men meet to discuss explosive issues, things can change in a big way. And that is precisely what happened after a highly secretive and immensely important meeting at the Presidency a few days back. The subject, not unexpectedly, being the fate of American killer Raymond Davis and that of Pakistan-US relations.

Little did anyone know at the time that the huddle would instead end up deciding the fate of Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

The meeting, convened by the president was attended by Prime Minister Gilani, Babar Awan, Rehman Malik, Shah Mehmood Qureshi and the DG ISI Gen Shuja Pasha. The president was given an exhaustive overview of the entire situation but quite early in the meeting it became evident that two of the men were standing on the wrong side of the prevalent dominant wisdom and desire of somehow finding a way to retrospectively cough up diplomatic immunity for Davis and to just wish away all the four deaths and the lingering crisis. But since one of the ‘erring’ two dared not be arbitrarily fired, poor Qureshi’s fate stood sealed.

Extreme pressure was exerted in the meeting on the former foreign minister to renege from his earlier stance and simply tell the court that the Foreign Office was in consonance with the American interpretation of Davis being a genuine diplomat and enjoying full immunity under Vienna Convention 1961. Facts be damned.

According to highly reliable sources, interior ministry’s immense resources were also offered to cause any necessary change of documentation or any exceptional service warranted under these exceptional circumstances.

An adamant Qureshi, who had strongly argued the case that Raymond did not enjoy unlimited diplomatic immunity under law, flatly refused and even said that if need be, he’d rather resign than become an accessory to multiple murder. The meeting ended on a rather unsavoury and unexpected note. It was a surprising outcome for all the others because Qureshi had always been perceived, and even pilloried by the media, as being an American lackey and was not expected to dig in his heels over an issue so vital for the US administration.

But Qureshi’s latest run in with the Americans did not begin or end inside the Presidency. It had actually begun much earlier on January 28, a day after the deadly Raymond Davis incident in Lahore. He was in Karachi when he first received a call from US Ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter and then had a conversation with US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Munter requested him for immediate councillor access to Davis and his immediate handover to US Consulate authorities. Qureshi asked Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir to talk to Munter and while authorising immediate councillor access to Davis made it clear to the foreign secretary that the matter of release would only be decided by the court as the legal process had already been kicked into motion in Punjab. Then came Hillary’s call.

An understandably perturbed Hillary wanted the immediate handover of Davis and insisted that Pakistan was violating the Vienna Convention by the illegal incarceration of a “US diplomat”. Confirming the contents of that conversation to The News, Shah Mehmood said that he had patiently explained to Hillary that while he understood her anxiety she too had to understand the highly emotive and sensitive nature of the incident. And also that since the judicial process had been kick-started in Lahore, the Foreign Office and the US had little option but to submit to the due process of law. Anyway, the two decided to discuss the matter on the sidelines of the then forthcoming Munich Security Conference, and the line went silent.

Since then, Ambassador Munter and other senior embassy officials remained busy with engaging Pakistani authorities and the Foreign Office, blowing hot or cold, depending upon the level of their own frustration and the pressure coming their way from Washington. A few days prior to the Munich Conference, Qureshi received a call from Ambassador Munter who said that he had been directed to convey the message that unless Qureshi signed the diplomatic immunity paper prior to the conference, the scheduled meeting between him and Hillary would stand cancelled. The message was starkly clear a la George Bush: You are either with us or against us. So be it, Qureshi is reported to have told the ambassador and even cancelled his trip altogether. The chief of the army staff went instead to Munich and that is an appointment that even the US secretary of state cannot cancel, Davis or no Davis.

Once Qureshi ignored the latest Hillary communique, the Americans stopped talking to him altogether because it had now become evident that Qureshi was not going to budge on his stance of Davis not being eligible for full diplomatic immunity. Qureshi was no longer a welcome dinner guest and neither could he be allowed to remain in office. The last thing Washington can afford is his having a Pakistani foreign minister with a reawakened conscience.

According to highly reliable sources, the next claimed scalp may be that of the equally intransigent (from American perspective), Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir who is now the only remaining top level hurdle in the apprehended shameless handover of Davis by a compromised political leadership. The foreign secretary is also of the considered firm view that Davis does not qualify for full immunity. And there are legitimate causes for this argument, which were further exposed by glaring inconsistencies in the forever changing US stance on the issue.

Owing to the paucity of space, irrefutable arguments proving Davis’ ineligibility are not being reproduced here and also because a lot has already been written on the legal aspects of the subject, including the highlighted fact that in the initial reaction by US authorities, Raymond Davis was identified as merely an “employee” of the US Consulate in Lahore, but never as a diplomat. He was referred to as an employee and not a consulate general official. “It was a simple clerical error” was the incredulous justification offered by two senior members of the Islamabad embassy in an off-the-record conversation with the scribe. But it gets even better.

A lot is being made by the Americans and their interlocutors of the January 20, 2010 communication of the Islamabad embassy wherein the FO had been asked for the issuance of a non-diplomatic identity card for Davis. It is being argued that this communication clearly identifies Raymond Davis as being administrative and technical staff of Islamabad embassy and therefore automatically eligible for diplomatic immunity. But this is only half the story.

Certain discrepancies in 2010 had already caused the Foreign Office to seek clarifications. In Sept 2009, the US State Department had originally identified him as technical advisor (contractor) going on “official business” while applying for his visa. Later he was attached to US Consulate Lahore as an employee. So when his name popped up again in January 2010, identifying him as being attached with the US Embassy Islamabad, the FO wanted answers to some very pertinent questions. The relevant FO officials repeatedly asked the US embassy to provide the details of Davis’ new responsibilities along with those of his past postings. When weeks had passed with the embassy avoiding a categorical clarification on this count, the FO finally sent a formal Note Verbale to the US embassy on July 8, 2010. It bore ref no: P(1-A)/2009-ID(USA). This note pertained to a total of ten Americans about whom similar details were being sought from the embassy but no response had been forthcoming from the US end. Davis was listed as Note No:252/HR. When FO authorities were asked about the presence of 2009 in the reference number of the note verbale otherwise sent on July 8, 2010, they clarified that it was perfectly in accordance with their internal filing sequence and did not reflect any anomaly.

Unable to cover this critical gap in their argument to secure Davis’ release on the afterthought alibi of diplomatic immunity, the US embassy has adopted the rather incredulous argument of denying outright the existence of this critical correspondence. The FO has been told at the highest level that the US embassy never received this Note Verbale. The two senior functionaries stuck to the denial mantra when asked by The News about the embassy’s refusal to divulge the real assignments and other details of Davis and nine others. They insisted that all the embassy records had been thoroughly checked but there was no evidence of the cited note verbale ever being received. When they were told that the July 8 note was present in FO records and its existence and its having been sent to US embassy was recorded in more than one place and constituted a process that could not be tampered with within hours of an event taking place, the duo took the reference number of the ‘missing note’ to ostensibly try locating it from their records. This raises an interesting question: if they still needed the reference number at this stage, then how did they even check their records earlier?

Can you name a single other incidence where prior to this particular note verbale or since, any note verbale sent by FO to the US embassy has ever gone missing? the two functionaries were asked. Not surprisingly, the duo could not cite a single such incidence.

Interesting coincidence one must say, where the entire US administration makes critical clerical errors which only expose Davis as being a non-diplomat. Another interesting coincidence again, when only one specific official communication out of hundreds of similar exchanges goes missing, and which once again stood to expose Raymond Davis for being anything but a legitimate diplomat on a legitimate diplomatic assignment.

NOTE: This is a cross post from the daily News, Lahore.

Related Posts

1.       Pakistan: walking a tightrope 2.      Raymond Davis, Murder and Vienna Convention 1961 3.      The (Very) Strange Case of  Raymond Davis 4.      Senators oppose US gunman`s release 5.      Raymond Davis Incident


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22 replies to “Raymond Davis Case: Obama Fires Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Qureshi

  1. Question: Why was Davis carrying a gun?
    A: The last American to not carry a gun in Pakistan was Daniel Pearl and they took his head.
    Question: Why should he carry a gun?
    A: For protection, especially where anti-american sentiment is so high. Also, because he is trained on how to operate one.
    Quesetion: Why should Pakistan let him go…why was Pakistan already SUPPOSED to let him go?
    A. It’s international law. It can take me less than 30 seconds to google the international charter stating diplomats are free from prosectution.
    Question: Why are people saying he is a killer when they weren’t there?
    A: Because they would rather believe what they want to believe and ignore facts. i.e. then men killed had loaded guns..a picture of one of the deceased had a gun in his hand.
    Question: Why is there no outcry for more gun control laws in Pakistan if people are so worried about it?
    A. There could be but arreseting people who walk around with AK’s and arresting rebels who kill innocent civialians is apparently not a priority.

    1. Question:

      Why Afia Saddique was not prosecuted in Afghanistan, where the crime was actually committed??

      Why she got 87 yeatrs in Prison/ Do you really think that Raymond Davis will ever get 87 years for killing two people, if the trial is held in the USA???

      1. USA is a superpower and sadly the only one in the world. So they are the law and rule of the world. Do not meddle in rules and international laws, US will protect its citizen whether he is a big criminal.

        God save the world.

    2. @unallied1801
      In response to questions raised in your comment, here is an update from BBC News South Asia. I reproduce this here in verbatim. This definitely answers most of your queries, I hope.
      Q&A: Lahore shootings – unanswered questions
      killings threaten to derail US-Pakistan ties

      A court in Pakistan has delayed a hearing to decide whether an American who shot dead two men in Lahore last month has diplomatic immunity. The arrest of Raymond Davis has severely damaged relations between the countries. Much of the detail in the case remains unclear – the BBC’s Syed Shoaib Hasan looks at some of the unanswered questions.
      Q: Is Raymond Davis a diplomat?
      A: If you are thinking of a suavely dressed man in a three-piece suit who holds meetings with local officials to further or broaden his country’s agenda, you would be wrong. Mr. Davis was definitely not employed for his diplomatic skills – he is more a “hands-on” person, working in what the US embassy says is its “administrative and technical affairs section”. Reports from the US say he is a former special forces soldier who left the military in 2003 and is working for the US embassy in Pakistan. As such, the US insists he is covered by the Vienna Convention which guarantees immunity from prosecution for all diplomatic staff.
      Q: Could he be a spy?
      A: Many Pakistanis believe he is – there seem few other credible explanations as to why he was going around Lahore with a Glock pistol in a car with local number plates without informing local authorities. It is a requirement for embassy staff – especially those from Western embassies – to inform local police of their movements, simply because they are prime targets for militants in Pakistan. Mr. Davis’s department in the US embassy is widely seen in Pakistan as a cover for Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operations. Mr. Davis himself said he was a consultant employed by the US government. Researchers in the US say that since leaving the military, Mr. Davis worked for a security firm called Hyperion LLC. But subsequent investigations by the US media have now shown that Hyperion exists only as a website. The offices that the company says it has in Orlando have been vacant for several years and the numbers on its website are unlisted.
      Q: Can Mr Davis be convicted for the murders?
      A: Maybe. It all depends on how eager the Pakistani authorities are to punish him. The fact that he is possibly a spy does not mean he is not covered by diplomatic immunity. It is common practice for intelligence services across the world to send operatives under the cover of assignments to embassies. Both Pakistani and US “diplomats” have been caught in such situations – and every time have been asked to leave the host country immediately with no possibility of a return. That is the maximum punishment that has been levied in the overwhelming majority of cases in countries which have signed the Vienna Convention. However, in some countries there are exceptions for serious offences committed, such as murder. Pakistan is one of those countries. The matter is now in the hands of the judiciary. But it is important to remember that Mr. Davis has been charged with murder – the maximum sentence here is the death penalty.
      Q: Should Mr. Davis have been carrying a gun?
      A: Legally speaking, only Pakistani citizens with licences issued by the interior ministry are allowed to carry arms. No foreigner is allowed to carry arms, except soldiers or guards within the premises of an embassy. Both Pakistani nationals and foreigners caught carrying arms can be charged under a Pakistani criminal law which stipulates a jail term of six months to two years in addition to a fine. Mr. Davis has also been charged under this law.
      Matters were further inflamed by the suicide of the widow of one of the men killed by Mr. Davis
      Q: Was he acting in self-defence?
      A: That was the initial plea made by Mr Davis and the US embassy. However, subsequent investigations by the police, forensic labs and the local and international media suggest that the two men were driving away from Mr Davis when they were shot. In February Lahore’s police chief said that Mr Davis was guilty of “cold-blooded murder” – he said that no fingerprints had been uncovered on the triggers of the pistols found on the bodies of the two men. Furthermore he said that tests had shown that the bullets remained in the magazines of their guns, not the chambers, suggesting they weren’t about to shoot him. On the face of it, this leaves Mr Davis’s claim that they were robbers – with one even apparently cocking a gun at his head – looking very thin. In addition, police say ballistics evidence shows that the pair were shot in the back – which again suggests they were moving away from Mr Davis, rather than about to attack him.
      Q: Who were the Pakistanis that Mr Davis shot?
      A: In his initial statement, Mr. Davis said they were robbers who were trying to steal his valuables. He and the US embassy have maintained this story. However, the men have no criminal records as such. Both have been identified as residents of Lahore by the police. The pair were carrying licensed pistols – a fact which led many to believe they might indeed have been robbers. However, security sources in Lahore say that they were part-time or low-level operatives for the local intelligence services. Although reports are sketchy about what they were doing in relation to Mr. Davis, security officials believe it could be the case of a surveillance operation gone horribly wrong. Pakistani intelligence services routinely tail and monitor all embassy staff, Western or otherwise.
      Q: What about the second car and its victim?
      A: A side event to the main drama concerning Mr. Davis was the fact a third man was also killed during the incident. He was an innocent bystander run over by a US embassy vehicle, which was initially said to have arrived to rescue Mr. Davis. The fact that an embassy vehicle was able to get to the spot so quickly was a source of astonishment to anyone who is even vaguely aware of the geography of Lahore. Given the incident was over within minutes, it seems incredible that anyone could negotiate the 12km (7.4-mile) 40-minute drive in peak traffic in less than five minutes. But subsequent investigations have now shown that the second car – a Toyota Landcruiser – was with Mr. Davis at the time of the incident. In fact, according to eyewitnesses, Mr. Davis was leading and clearing the way for the Toyota when the incident took place. In the light of what happened afterwards, it seems Mr. Davis was in “protective mode” and opened fire to “secure” whoever or whatever was in the Toyota – the interior of this vehicle was not visible as its windows were tinted. It is evident in local TV footage that the second vehicle is going away from Mr Davis at the time of the incident. As it disappears into the dust, Mr. Davis calmly pulls over and gives himself up. Pakistani authorities have asked for the Landcruiser and its driver to be handed over – a request with which the US has yet to comply.
      Q: What about behind-the-scenes negotiations?
      A: As well as public pressure, US officials have also privately warned Pakistan’s government of far-reaching and severe consequences if Mr. Davis is convicted. Unnamed US officials have also used the media to issue veiled warnings to Pakistan that diplomatic ties could be cut and all aid stopped. Despite Islamabad’s public stance on Mr Davis, Pakistani officials are said to have privately assured Washington that he will eventually be released. However, public pressure means that at the moment this could lead to a massive anti-government backlash. Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, has hinted that blood money could be paid to the families of the two men Mr. Davis admits shooting, which could enable his release. There is speculation that US officials may try to establish contacts with the families in this regard. However, it is not clear that Mr. Davis has been charged under laws which would allow blood money to be paid.

  2. Hats off – Shah Mehmood Qureshi – for so boldly digging in his heels over an extremely sensitive issue for the US Administration. This rare bravado of Mr. Qureshi has not only washed away the ugly American lackey blot, but it has also earned him heaps of merited laurels of the entire nation, including his arch political rivals like Munawar Hassan, the Jamaat-e-Islami Chief.

  3. If US will insist that Raymond was a diplomat then Pakistan will have to grant him diplomatic immunity as per Jeneva convension .The popular demand has no meaning in such circumstances .It is the govt. Of Pakistan who has to decide that what is in the interest of war against terrorism .This war is killing less number of innocents than the terrorists do .

  4. Where were people llike T.A.Siddique were hiding and now visible on Opinion Maker, when innocent people were being killed in Afghanistan and Kashmir by the terrorists ? Now are ready to ignite revolt in the Pakistan .

  5. Cheers up Mr. Qureshi….you ineluctably took a stance of justice unlike your belonging party(PPP). Memebers like FAUZIA WAHAB are there to defend the American killer. I dont by what virtue she declared mr.Davis a diplomat, may she was told to do so by her sold leadership.

  6. The elected govt. At Islamabad is the supreem authority to deal with the case .Court and state govt. Has nothing to do with it.

    1. When the courts would have nothing to do with legal issues, the society would becomea ‘jungle’ where the stronger one will start deciding the fate of the weaker ones. On that premise the US shall have a RIGHT to dictate Bharat as well becoz US is after all much more stronger than Vishall Bharat of yours. Tewari Ji, aisa insaf aap ko hi mubarik ho.

  7. Wasi ji . .,Yov are very correct . your understanding of the fact give you feeling that you and we are strong due to our number but to me our over population is our weakness. We behave like a sheep with a mob mentality .It is the technology which can increase d our strength and believe me the same technology has potential to cnnvert us in into ash .

  8. yes i have some comments regarding davis case that it was said by the prominent jurist that laws are commands issued by superior to inferior…so we r inferior and are unable to resists against U.S. we r beggers and beggers cannot be chooser…although we know that raymond has no diplomatic immunity but our govt will sought out any solution for davis ,,i m astonished tht they will ament the international law for davis,, bkz thay have the habit of amending..

  9. my question is that in america the govt belived justice why they are afraid of pakistani courts and if mr. davis is a diplomat why the mr munter did not cleared his name in his press conference. The afia siddique arrested in afghanistan and she is the resident of pakistan why his trial made in america. All pakistani hate america govt because they are all real terrorist in the world.

  10. d.
    The oppressors of the
    world have to give a
    chance to peace but that
    is not to be, because the
    New Great Game has
    just begun – the Saudi
    and GCC armed forces
    have entered Bahrain,
    under the watchful eyes
    of the West. The fire so
    lit, will spread far and
    beyond. ?..Gen Aslam beg has rightly assessed and it also apears to me that U.S. has already paid the required BLOOD MONEY for entire ummah .then which one is the next ?

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