“One way out of the mess surrounding the Jan. 27 arrest in Lahore of CIA contractor Raymond Davis,” writes ISI spokesman and Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, “is a Muslim ritual for resolving disputes known as ‘blood money.'” He sources this information to a conversation with a senior Pakistani official, and suggests having some sort of Saudi Islamic intermediary broker the payment (an ISI official emailed him of their desire to ‘resolve’ the case, whatever the nature of their dispute).
Global Post, on location in Lahore, reports that it won’t be quite that easy:
Part of the challenge with the Raymond Davis case is that it is intimately wrapped up in Pakistan’s domestic politics and public unhappiness with the U.S.’s war on terror. Davis’ two victims’ families are hurt and angry, and they should be: death is not a simple matter, nor is it emotionless (no matter what the racist political hacks in the U.S. try to say about Muslims and South Asians). But a family’s desire for revenge is not compatible with a justice system—nor is it compatible with the global system of diplomatic immunity. It is not something Pakistan can just to ignore whenever it’s convenient; immunity is a bedrock principle of the international system, and discarding it because of high emotions runs the risk of degrading a fundamental concept of diplomacy.
So why is Pakistan playing politics with Davis’ immunity? Zahid Hussain—a brilliant journalist and writer—doesn’t directly answer this, but he does explain Pakistan’s ideological divide, and how this has stilted the public discourse:
What the extremists have tried to do is to create a sense of fear and suppress the voices of reason and moderation. With a spineless administration giving in to their militant rhetoric, the extremists seem to have widened their political space which they had failed to gain through the ballot box. They have also been helped by a section of the media to project their extremist narrative.
His argument is worth reading in full. But using that as a frame, we can reasonably guess that blood money won’t solve the sentiment Davis’ arrest has stirred. It is part of a broader complex of feelings with Pakistan’s public sphere: of victimhood at the hands of the U.S., at the hands of extremists, and at the hands of its own government. They want to lash out, and that is understandable. But respecting Davis’ immunity will not inflame their anger any more than publicly hanging him will—the fundamentals of Pakistan’s struggle will not have changed, and no scape goat—however emotionally appealing he may be—will change that.