Lahore shooting by Raymond Davis and “the legal issues to settle”: Some questions for Ejaz Haider

Once again, Ejaz Haider’s choice of topic and narrative is strikingly similar to the topic and narrative chosen by Ansar Abbasi, Hamid Mir etc, something which has forced me to write this post.

First of all, I must thank Mosharraf Zaidi who thus introduced Ejaz Haider’s recent article in the Express Tribune newspaper:

mosharrafzaidi (twitter)
everything that needs saying on the Lahore double murder, said. by @ejazhaider. brilliance. http://bit.ly/ebb5K3

In the article under review, Mr Haider asks some apparently important and relevant questions on the Lahore shooting by a US national.

Before you read the article which I reproduce below, I have some questions for Mr Haider:

1. The amount of detail provided in Mr Haider’s article is immaculate, perhaps as thorough as we might expect in an investigation or intelligence agency dossier. For example, he writes:

Why was he carrying a pistol, a Glock 17 I am told, which is a 9mm semi-automatic weapon that packs the punch with 17 rounds in a standard magazine. It is used by pros and Davis does seem like one. Why did Davis try to run away from the scene after displaying the calm ability to shoot a pistol with a steady hand, get out of the car, make a video of the bodies, and talk to someone on the wireless?
From what’s known so far, it does not appear that the killed boys intended to shoot Davis. They were carrying local-made pistols (terrible choice); one didn’t have bullets in it, while the other had five rounds of local ammo, another bad amateur choice. There is no indication that they tried to fire at Davis. Davis fired from inside his car, slightly above the steering wheel and towards the right. Most of the bullets, it appears from the autopsy, entered their bodies from the back — that would mean they were facing away from the shooter, or were trying to escape at the time they were shot down. If this is correct then, at least at the moment Davis shot them, they were not a threat to his life. Itchy fingers perhaps?… One source told me the ammo he used was hollow-point; another says it was ballpoint. With hollow-point the boys stood no chance at all. The round enters the body and flattens, causing terrible tissue damage….Glock pistols have a two-stage trigger safety mechanism because there is no external safety catch. The weapon will fire when the trigger is depressed normally beyond the first stage afforded by the internal trigger safety mechanism. Why did he fire 7 shots if the idea was to incapacitate?

Would Mr Haider care to inform us about the source from where such details were leaked to him? Why was such information revealed to Mr Haider and not to an anti-establishment writer (e.g. Ayesha Siddiqa or Kamran Shafi)?

2. Why did not Mr Haider care to reveal the leverage that the Punjab Government and a “sensitive” agency are currently trying to gain from the Lahore shooting incident as a pressure tactic on the Federal government and the US government? Why did not he highlight the role that the Punjab Government and the ‘agency’ are currently playing in the aftermath of the Lahore shooting incident?

3. A few weeks ago, a notorious jihadi / sectarian terrorist Qari Saifullah Akhtar was released by the Punjab Government in connivance with / under pressure by an intelligence agency. Would Ejaz Haider pay only half the amount of attention to Qari Saifullah Akhtar’s release as he paid to Raymond Davis’s arrest in Lahore?

4. Perhaps Mr Haider might not have much time to write on Qari Akhtar’s case because of his other commitments. Can he kindly help us in locating any reports by his friends Mosharraf Zaidi, Declan Walsh or Omar Waraich on Qari Saifullah Akhtar’s release by the ISI & PML-N?

5. Towards the end of his article, Mr Haider authoritatively writes: “The US government cannot spring the guy until all legal issues are settled.” What legal issues exactly is he talking about? Anything to do with General Pasha? or qom ki beti (the daughter of the nation) Aafia as was suggested by his media colleagues (Hamid Mir, Ansar Abbasi, Irfan Siddiqi etc)?

Finally, here is Mr Haider’s article.

Lahore shooting: Some questions
By Ejaz Haider

Two boys shot dead by Raymond Davis, an American national, in the Mozang area of Lahore; one biker crushed to death by a speeding US consulate vehicle that arrives on the scene presumably to rescue Davis, who tries to escape but is captured. The consulate vehicle escapes after overrunning the unfortunate biker.

The incident has left a trail of three bodies and several questions.

Who is Davis — accredited diplomat or a civilian contracted by the US consulate for ‘technical advice’, a term that can cover a broad range of activities? Why was he carrying a pistol, a Glock 17 I am told, which is a 9mm semi-automatic weapon that packs the punch with 17 rounds in a standard magazine. It is used by pros and Davis does seem like one.

Why did Davis try to run away from the scene after displaying the calm ability to shoot a pistol with a steady hand, get out of the car, make a video of the bodies, and talk to someone on the wireless?

From what’s known so far, it does not appear that the killed boys intended to shoot Davis. They were carrying local-made pistols (terrible choice); one didn’t have bullets in it, while the other had five rounds of local ammo, another bad amateur choice. There is no indication that they tried to fire at Davis. It is interesting to note where Davis fired from, in what direction and where the boys took the bullets.

Davis fired from inside his car, slightly above the steering wheel and towards the right. That would mean the boys were parked ahead of his car, probably close to the right edge of the bonnet. Not exactly the right place if you want to shoot down a driver. Most of the bullets, it appears from the autopsy, entered their bodies from the back — that would mean they were facing away from the shooter, or were trying to escape at the time they were shot down. If this is correct then, at least at the moment Davis shot them, they were not a threat to his life. Itchy fingers perhaps?

One source told me the ammo he used was hollow-point; another says it was ballpoint. With hollow-point the boys stood no chance at all. The round enters the body and flattens, causing terrible tissue damage.

Glock pistols have a two-stage trigger safety mechanism because there is no external safety catch. The weapon will fire when the trigger is depressed normally beyond the first stage afforded by the internal trigger safety mechanism. Why did he fire 7 shots if the idea was to incapacitate? Since Davis has claimed self-defence he will have to prove that his life was in grave danger when he shot the boys.

People are angry. There is a sense, not entirely wrong, that Americans act haughty, even though the blame for this must go to Pakistani governments. If the governments fail to observe the protocols, too eager to roll out the red carpet even for lower ranking American officials, one can’t blame the Americans for taking Pakistan for granted.

Consider the attitude of the public affairs officers at the US embassy and the consulate in Lahore. They have refused to ID Davis. Instead of helping in investigating the killing of three Pakistanis, the US embassy has now demanded that this guy be immediately released. And pray, how and why, unless all these questions are answered? The government should clarify when, how, why, and if at all, a foreign national can carry a weapon? What exactly is the status of this man, his ID and the nature of his work here? What is the protocol for the movement of American nationals, whether in official or personal capacity? Are the Americans using SOPs for their protection that may violate local laws? If so, why?

The government should set up a website, giving information on alllegal and other questions thrown up by this violent incident. It must also tell the people why the US embassy has made such a demand. The US government cannot spring the guy until all legal issues are settled. Neither can the federal and Punjab governments afford to let him walk away just like that.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 31st, 2011.

The message

The message in (or via) Ejaz Haider’s article is clear: “The US government cannot spring the guy until all legal issues are settled. Neither can the federal and Punjab governments afford to let him walk away just like that.”

Obviously there are certain legal issues which need to be settled by the US government. (General sahib is wanted by a US court for his involvement in the Mumbai terror attacks.)

‘Who is the sender of this message’ is a pertinent question but I leave the answer to the critical readers’ judgement.

……….

PS: An interesting comment from the ET website:

Whether his life was in grave danger or not, he was approached by people who carried guns and this gives him the benefit of self-defense. Let’s just imagine he was a Pakistani. Would anybody have raised an eyebrow at him in a similar situation? People would be happy that we have two less robbers to deal with.

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