The news that Raymond Davis, the American being held in Pakistan for a double murder, is a CIA agent that previously worked for Blackwater adds public pressure on Pakistan not to release him.
The revelation that Raymond Davis, the American detained in Pakistan for a deadly double shooting earlier this month, works for the CIA raises the stakes of street resistance to returning him to the United States.
US officials initially described Mr. Davis as a “technical adviser” with diplomatic immunity. Now US officials are telling Western media that, in fact, he works for the CIA and at some point worked for private security firm Blackwater.
Past cases have fueled conspiracies that the CIA and Blackwater (now known as Xe) are entrenched in Pakistan. The Pakistani government denied it had given permission for US drone strikes, until drones were photographed parked at a Pakistani airfield. And US claims that its special forces were only involved in training were proven false by documents unearthed by the antisecrecy group WikiLeaks.
Groups like the Islamic party Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) have found traction on the Davis case because of popular fears that America may call many of the shots and that the Pakistani government rolls over quietly. JI has staged street protests in major cities to pressure the government not to return Davis, holding signs that included: “Friends of America are traitors.”
While many experts doubt Pakistan is in the kind of peril that is sweeping governments out of power in the Muslim world, the government still faces a strong challenge from opposition parties stoking public fears. Analysts say this means that the US must now show calculated deference to Pakistan during the difficult mission ahead to get Davis back.
Davis, who has been detained since the Jan. 27 incident, claims that he shot two Pakistani motorcyclists in self-defense, although Pakistani authorities have challenged this account. He is expected to face trial next month in Pakistan on charges of murder and possession of an illegal weapon.
“The US has to focus on a solution to this crisis that somehow demonstrates that the US does respect Pakistani sovereignty,” says Lisa Curtis, a Heritage Foundation fellow visiting New Delhi to release a new book, “Counter-terrorism in South Asia.”
What exactly that diplomatic maneuver would look like, she cannot say. But, she adds, “patience is really required here: You have to let temperatures go down.”
She says it is a positive sign that the US has reinstituted high-level contacts by sending Sen. John Kerry (D) of Massachusetts and dispatching soon the new special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan. She noted that the US had previously cancelled a trilateral meeting with Pakistan in Washington scheduled for today.
“The fact that the US has cancelled diplomatic meetings … I think that was really unprecedented even given all the problems over the years,” she said in a speech earlier.