Last Thursday, I presented evidence that builds a strong case that one of Raymond Davis’ functions when he is in the US is to recruit intelligence agents. On Tuesday, the Express Tribune in Pakistan presented evidence that suggests that Davis also worked as a recruiter of some sort within Pakistan, as well.
The Express Tribune quotes an official from the Punjab police on Davis’ ties to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP):
“The Lahore killings were a blessing in disguise for our security agencies who suspected that Davis was masterminding terrorist activities in Lahore and other parts of Punjab,” a senior official in the Punjab police claimed.
“His close ties with the TTP were revealed during the investigations,” he added. “Davis was instrumental in recruiting young people from Punjab for the Taliban to fuel the bloody insurgency.” Call records of the cellphones recovered from Davis have established his links with 33 Pakistanis, including 27 militants from the TTP and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi sectarian outfit, sources said.
The Times of India picks up on this accusation, and spins it to suggest that Davis may have been double-crossing the US in an article with the suggestive headline “Did Davis double-cross US as recruitment point man for Taliban?”
American official Raymond Davis, arrested for double murder, had “close links” with Taliban and was “instrumental” in recruiting youths for it, the media here claimed on Tuesday, close on the heels of reports in the US that he was a CIA agent tracking movements of terror groups like LeT.
The “close ties” of 37-year-old Davis, arrested in Lahore on January 27 for killing two men he claimed were trying to rob him, with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan came out during investigations, ‘The Express Tribune’ reported quoting an unnamed senior official of Punjab Police. “Davis was instrumental in recruiting young people from Punjab for the Taliban to fuel the bloody insurgency (in Pakistan),” the official said.
I lean toward the explanation that the Express Tribune offers for Davis’ actions:
Davis was also said to be working on a plan to give credence to the American notion that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are not safe. For this purpose, he was setting up a group of the Taliban which would do his bidding.
Isn’t it interesting that Davis’ “bull in the china shop” act has bungled so much in what may well be covert US activities in the general area of weapons of mass destruction? Could the inept way Davis has operated be more fallout from the grave damage done to the CIA’s WMD program when Dick Cheney “outed” Valerie Plame?
Although there have been some suggestions that Davis was in fact very high up in the CIA organization in Pakistan, and perhaps even acting Head of Station since the recent “outing” of the person in that post, I’d like to believe that Davis is a lower level functionary since he was so sloppy in how much incriminating material he had with him when the shooting incident went down. One argument in favor of this interpretation lies in the sheer number of “agents” the US has in Pakistan. From the Washington Post:
It is unclear how many of the U.S. mission’s personnel are private security contractors or intelligence agents, many of whom work alongside Pakistani agents on counterterrorism operations, including the CIA drone program. A U.S. Embassy spokeswoman declined to provide figures; according to data provided by the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, 3,555 U.S. diplomats, military officials and employees of “allied agencies” were issued visas in 2010, most of which were valid for three months.
Pakistani commentators and opposition parties have filled that vacuum of information in recent days with numbers of their own. In a recent newspaper column, Raoof Hasan, a media adviser to the chief minister of Punjab province, of which Lahore is the capital, wrote of “scores of other Raymonds roaming the roads.” Last week, the chief of Jamaat-e-Islami, a religious party, told a gathering of tribal elders that there are “thousands of Raymond Davises.”
Whatever Davis’ true assignment in Pakistan might have been, it is clear that this incident has had and continues to have a profound influence on Pakistanis’ opinion of the US and on US-Pakistan diplomatic relations. How the case will be resolved remains to be seen, but former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi offered a very interesting take on the next steps during an appearance before the Rawalpindi District Bar:
“The whole nation is unified on the independence of the judiciary…free judiciary will help bring foreign investment,” said Qureshi. “Lawyers’ role in ending dictatorships and restoring democracy cannot be ignored,” he added.
Qureshi appreciated the role of Bar and Bench for the fight of restoring democracy in the country.
“Accountability is possible only by good governance and transparency…lawyers would have to continue their struggle for strengthening democratic institutions as they have done in the past,” said the former minister.
If Davis is to be released, it is certain that the release will be contingent upon the US promising to carry out its own criminal investigation of Davis killing the two Pakistani citizens. Does anyone believe that the US judicial system under Barack Obama and Eric Holder is independent enough for such an investigation to be credible?