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سوموار، 14 فروری، 2011

Raymond ‘Rambo’ Davis

For those who continue to compare Davis with Rambo and do so without having any idea what Rambo represents should in my opinion be forced to see all the Rambo moviees one after another for three days  in a row without being allowed to fall asleep.

By Dr Syed Mansoor Hussain

On January 27, Raymond Davis of the US Consulate shot two people and killed them in the city of Lahore. The basic facts are that Davis was driving by himself in a congested urban area when he was accosted by two men riding a motorcycle. According to some eyewitnesses interviewed by TV crews at the crime scene, these men tried to rob Davis at gunpoint and he shot them. Both of the men shot eventually died and Davis was arrested as he tried to flee the scene. The rest is a confused mass of disinformation, misinformation, conjecture and hyperbole.

Whether Davis has diplomatic immunity as the US insists is something that is being questioned by one and all, including those who have never heard of Vienna or any conventions concerning the said matter ever held there. To muddy the proverbial waters a bit more a senior Punjab prosecutor who stated that Davis acted in self-defence has since relinquished his position. Subsequent suicide of the wife of one of the victims has made matters worse.

For the last two weeks the media has devoted considerable space to this incident. A couple of days ago some religious outfit even had a smallish rally on the Mall Road in Lahore to demand that Davis be hanged immediately. Such outlandish demands by religious outfits are always a source of bemusement. Vociferous saviours of the faith and national honour are always relentless in their demand that all those who offend them must immediately have their heads dispatched to places different from the rest of their bodies, laws be damned. But when it comes to one of their own, every legal resource known to Pakistani law and a few illegal ones are used to prevent the separation of the aforementioned head from the attached body.

It was also interesting that some ‘intrepid’ journalists started to refer to Davis as ‘Rambo’. Clearly none of them had ever seen a Rambo movie. Rambo, as they should know, is always on the right side of morality, always gets his man, always escapes the clutches of evil, sadistic and clearly bigoted oppressors and tormentors by killing most if not all of them. And yes he never wears a shirt. So for those who continue to compare Davis with Rambo and do so without having any idea what Rambo represents should in my opinion be forced to see all the Rambo movies one after another for three days in a row without being allowed to fall asleep.

So, what it boils down to right now is whether Davis acted in self-defence thinking that he was being attacked by armed robbers or worse by ‘terrorists’ out to get him. Whether we like it or not the fact remains that armed robbery as well as terror attacks are now so commonplace in Lahore that it would be difficult to blame Davis for thinking that he was a victim of such an attack. It is also entirely unreasonable to expect that a person confronted by two men pointing guns at him should wait to be shot at before shooting back.

If Davis did not think that he was under attack, then why did he shoot these two young men? The reason offered for such behaviour by the ‘Rambo’ school of thought is that the American just went berserk. There are even some interesting conspiracy theories floating around. It was reported and then denied as expected that these two men who were killed were really agents of some Pakistani secret agency and were following Davis around as he went about on an important spying mission for the US. Mozang, after all, as all Lahoris know is a hotbed of international intrigue. And Davis had to get rid of these two ‘agents’ to protect either his ‘sources’ or the nature of his mission.

My personal assessment is that if it was not fear for his life then it must have been one of two things. Road rage at being stuck in traffic, another fact of daily life in Lahore or else anger at something else. What this something else might have been is at best speculative. Perhaps Davis saw these men wearing ‘counterfeit’ US brand tee-shirts and jeans and killed them to make an example of them for all those young men in Lahore who go around wearing such clothes. Or could it be that he just did not like the looks of these two men, who knows.

That said, what Davis was doing in Mozang all by his lonesome self, why he was carrying a loaded weapon and why he did not inform the police that he was travelling unaccompanied in the city are also important questions. The latter though seems a little disingenuous, especially after a member of his own security detail assassinated the late governor of Punjab just a few weeks ago.

The Davis scenario is getting progressively complicated. The reason is politics. Anti-American sentiment is rampant in Pakistan and anything which even remotely reeks of pro-Americanism is immediately seized upon by the religious parties and politicians of a ‘certain’ predisposition to vilify the present government of Pakistan. The US State Department is of course also doing its thing by making demands that seem quite unreasonable. What the US must understand is that the harder it pushes, greater will be the resolve of the Pakistani authorities to rest any US demand that is considered excessive and ‘overbearing’.

The question whether Davis has ‘diplomatic immunity’ should of course be sorted out based upon accepted diplomatic norms. And the press and the politicians should take a breather and let the courts do their thing. However, the US State Department as well as Davis must be thankful that nobody has yet charged Davis with making ‘blasphemous’ remarks as he shot these young men. If such a charge is ever brought up then this will definitely become an ‘open and shut’ case.

The writer has practised and taught medicine in the US. He can be reached at
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