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Professor: Davis Arrest Undercuts U.S.-Pakistani Relations

This article is more than 8 years old.
Protestors rally to condemn a shooting incident involving Raymond Davis. (AP)
Protestors rally to condemn a shooting incident involving Raymond Davis. (AP)

Political science professor Adil Najam says the arrest of an American in Pakistan — who may or may not have ties to the CIA — threatens "the single most important, and single most messed up, international relationship there is."

On Point discussed the Pakistan situation Thursday with Najam and other guests. Last month, American defense contractor Raymond Allen Davis was arrested and charged with gunning down two people in Lahore.

Najam just returned from five days in Lahore, where he met with high-level former and current officials from both countries. He said the Davis arrest was the subject of a lot of heated conversations. The case is a "clarifying moment" for Pakistanis, he said, perhaps the straw that breaks the camel's back of strained relations between the United States and Pakistan.

Here is a transcript of some of Najam's comments to host Tom Ashbrook:

Adil Najam: “This guy is not a diplomat. He does not have immunity. I have been a professor of diplomacy for six years, there’s nothing in the Vienna Convention. There’s a bunch of lies here…this was a case of cold-blooded murder. This was a case where he says he’s from the Lahore Consulate, the U.S. Embassy says he’s from the Lahore Consulate, the next day he turns out to be from the Islamabad Embassy, because that is the only way you can get the immunity.

Ashbrook: So you don’t even accept the facts? (interrupted)

Najam: We are missing the point here.

Ashbrook: Did he have a diplomatic passport or not?

Najam: He did not. No he did not.

Ashbrook: The American government claims that he did.

Najam: The government of Pakistan has been asking the U.S. for proof that he has a diplomatic passport, the U.S. government has not provided it. Pakistan television – every station has been brandishing this photo copy of a letter, and I wish the New York Times also picked it up, which shows that the U.S. government actually did not want him to have diplomatic stakes.

Ashbrook: So you say that he is a perfect rogue and therefore murderer by your logic?

Najam: That’s not the question. To me, all of this is spinning the story so that the real story is left out.

Ashbrook: Let’s hear it.

Najam: The real story is you have a really important international relationship here which is really unraveling here.

Ashbrook: No kidding.

Najam: Unraveling here because, on both sides — Pakistanis are doing this too, there are questions that the Pakistanis aren’t asking, for example, who are those two guys who got killed. The questions that the New York Times hasn’t asked for three weeks…

Ashbrook: Ok, let’s hear him. He’s right here. Mark Mazzetti is here.

Najam: I mean, the New York Times’ credibility in Pakistan, or any U.S. newspaper, is like the people’s daily.

Ashbrook: What are the questions? Let’s hear it.

Najam: The questions. For example: Why have we not in the U.S. heard anything serious about the story for three weeks?

Ashbrook: Well, Mark Mazzetti’s been out there reporting on it.

Najam: No he hasn’t. Only now.

Ashbrook: It’s right here.

Najam: This happened a month ago, this happened a month ago.

Ashbrook: Ok, too slow.

Najam: Not just too slow. His wife doesn’t show up, we’re not even sure if the name is right. It’s not until the Guardian breaks up the story – the Washington Post claims itself that it knew the story, kept it hidden because it was told that it shouldn’t…

Ashbrook: The Times says the same thing. They knew it but they were asked by the government not to put it out – we’ve got it. Too slow. What else? Time is short.

Najam: Not just too slow! It seems that they are spinning the story. Again, what Mark (Mazzetti) is doing here is taking a U.S. position and spinning it. I do not think, as scholars in my case, as journalists in his case, we do a service to the Pakistani-U.S. relationship by trying to…

Ashbrook: I’ve known you both for a long time, I respect your point, but give us your questions because the time is short. For the New York Times, let’s say, what else?

Najam: There are whole hosts of questions here. How many Raymond Davises are there? What is really…

Ashbrook: You mean American contractors running around with a Glock in their pocket?

Najam: Exactly. Now, if you go to Pakistan, people are going to look at you – people who know you forever – and say ‘Does he have a Glock?’ And there are all these people running around. You have a really important relationship here and by calling this a ‘war’ you’re turning him into a soldier, by calling him a diplomat you’re doing a disservice to all of the wonderful men and women that I’ve worked with who are real diplomats. This is not what diplomats do. Diplomats do not shoot people three times at the front and then twice at the back.

Ashbrook: What’s at stake here?

Najam: What’s at stake here is the future of the single most important, and single most messed up, international relationship there is. Between Pakistan and the U.S.

Adil Najam is a professor of international relations at Boston University and director of the university’s Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future.

This program aired on February 24, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

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