“Shariah” saves the day, sort of. Raymond Davis was released from prison after agreeing to pay so-called “blood money” to the families of the two men he killed.
“The court first indicted him but the families later told court that they have accepted the blood money and they have pardoned him,” Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah told Reuters. “The court acquitted him in the murder case.”
Since my Pakistani friends are already working themselves into a frenzy over this, lets’ just say right now: stop. This was just about the only possible solution to that mess, considering the U.S. government’s dogged insistence that Davis had diplomatic immunity and the Pakistani courts’ decisions to play political football with the case. That left only a few outcomes: convicting and imprisoning Davis and allowing the protests, riots, and media frenzy to continue, convicting and executing Davis and ruining what’s left of the Pakistan-American relationship, or giving everyone a way out through some gestures toward Islamic law.
Everyone involved was smart to play this last card. I don’t know what there is to say about the particulars of Davis’ case—he most certainly did kill those two men, but it remains unclear if it was murder or self-defense, as he insists. What is clear is, there was no way in hell he could have possibly had a fair trial inside Pakistan.
In a way, the Raymond Davis case exemplifies the dysfunctional relationship between the two countries. Rumors were flying fast and free that the CIA was working overtime to get the ISI to give everyone an out using the Kissas and Diyat laws—which allowed Davis to pay money, the families to forgive him, and everyone to go home thankful there weren’t more deaths from the riots that a full-blown show trial would have brought.
It’s also a very public example of the specific relationship between the CIA and ISI, wherein Americans working for U.S. intelligence agencies in Pakistan get a lot of leeway (more than anyone else in almost any other place on earth), and in return the CIA doesn’t use its drones to target ISI facilities where the Afghan Taliban train. The two intelligence services have a nasty quid pro quo in place, where they bend on issues they’d ordinarily act upon to achieve other, more important goals—killing al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban for the CIA, and supporting the Afghan Taliban for the ISI.
What’s terrible about this outcome is, now there will be no justice in the Raymond Davis case. The best solution would have been for the Pakistani legal system to allow Davis to be extradited on the condition he be charged with murder in the U.S., and allow that trial to proceed away from the burning effigies and chants for his lynching. Unfortunately, both sides dug in their heels—first when Pakistan decided to reject the U.S.’s claims to Davis’ immunity, and then when President Obama called him “our diplomat in Pakistan” (which was clearly untrue). As both countries went further down these paths, the rhetoric became worse and worse until it seemed the two countries were heading toward a serious standoff. And now, since charges were brought and dropped, because the families of the victims have forgiven Davis, there will be no trial, and no justice.
It is to both government’s credit that they eventually backed off from this. I suspect the rumors of the CIA working overtime with the ISI to avoid an “incident” have a lot to do with this. But while this is the only real outcome we had left, it is far from a good one. Pakistan needs justice. While Davis shouldn’t be the first place to seek that—they should start with the ISI, TTP, TNSM, Jamaat, and LeT—that doesn’t mean Davis’ release is just. Pride turned this into a boondoggle, when wisdom could have made it cathartic.