Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The US, Pakistan and the Raymond Davis case

Former Special Forces officer and CIA contractor Raymond Davis is scheduled to be arraigned in court in Lahore, Pakistan on Wednesday in a case which has seriously soured relations between the United States and Pakistan. Scott Horton has an informative background piece on the case in Spy Games Foreign Policy 03/11/2011 (updated 03/14/2011). Davis is accused of shooting two Pakistanis execution-syle in the street in Lahore. Horton writes:

The problem is that lately Washington and Islamabad have been less than friendly. "The diplomatic immunity struggle over Davis is a smokescreen for other issues," one senior AfPak analyst told me. "It actually goes to the heart of a dispute over national security issues of the utmost importance to both Pakistan and the United States."

More than a month after Davis's arrest, sources in Washington began to acknowledge what had been reported in the Pakistani media from the outset: Davis was a contractor for the CIA. In short time he was identified as its acting station chief. Shortly thereafter, Pakistani intelligence sources claimed that the motorcyclists Davis had killed, who had previously been portrayed by Davis's defenders as street thugs, had in fact been known to Davis -- as low-level operatives of the ISI, who had been assigned to tail him. Davis had crossed "a red line," Pakistani officials told ABC News.

But what was that "red line"? Neither the ISI nor the CIA is eager to air their disagreements in public. But in the last three months, the friction between them has grown so intense that the flashpoints have become obvious. Some disputes have to do with specific personnel; others have to do with broader questions of policy and specific operations. But the essence is clear: The ISI believes that the CIA can only be given free range to operate on Pakistani soil if it treats the ISI as an equal, sharing with the ISI information about its personnel, the operations on which it is engaged, and the information it secures from those operations. And until the CIA makes meaningful concessions on the ISI's demands, the ISI is prepared to clamp down on the CIA. Indeed, at present no one appreciates that point more intensely than Raymond Davis.
See also his blog post of the same name, Spy Games No Comment 03/14/2011.

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