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

This article is more than 10 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:

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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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