Raymond Davis Case Is Sub Judice, Not Sub Media

Feb 1st, 2011 | By | Category: Geo TV

Raymond Davis surrounded by media cameras

There is nothing positive about a tragedy such as occurred last week when an American Consulate employee shot two men and a third died in a vehicular accident involving another American Consulate employee. Unfortunately, some in the media have taken the opportunity of this tragedy to promote confusion, conspiracy theories, and political agendas instead of presenting the facts. In some instances, there are even suggestions that the media is covering up some facts that are deemed inconvenient to a specific political agenda.

Kamran Shafi succinctly describes the various and contradictory ways the Raymond Davis case has been presented in the media:

He is alleged to be, variously, a spy, a Blackwater operative, a security guard and a US diplomat. There are as many stories about the man in our press as there are reporters in the newspapers, not one of them leading the reader to any conclusion.

In just one day we are regaled by differing accounts in different newspapers: one saying David had overstayed his visa by two years, another telling us his visa was valid until 2012; one saying he was not a diplomat, yet another telling us that he was an ‘official’, and so on and so forth. I have been following this case since the day of the shooting, have read every word written about it, and have to say that I am most confused. Nothing makes sense at all — a lot of which has to do with the conspiracy theorists and the and their spin quacks putting a spin on any aspect they can get their hands on.

In what is already a case filled with questions, media coverage is actually adding to the confusion rather than cutting through it. What is worst, Kamran notes that one eye witness account from the scene has disappeared from reporting.

What I myself saw on the very day of the shooting, about two hours after the event, was the interview of a young man off the street, conducted by a loud and vociferous channel. When asked what he had seen the man said: “pistol” (“The two motorcyclists drew their pistols to rob the foreigner [using the near-pejorative term , or Whitey] who shot them dead”). This was repeated twice in a period of 30 or so minutes and then taken off air. This is what I saw and heard myself. It is pertinent to note that that young man has not been seen, nor heard from, again. Neither has any newspaper quoted what he said on record.

Could it be that media is self-censoring this eye witness account because it is inconvenient to a specific political agenda?

Thankfully, one journalist is standing out in the crowd – Najam Sethi. As Cafe Pyala notes, Sethi “began his new programme Aapas Ki Baat with the warning that he wanted to put emotionalism aside and analyse the incident only in terms of the facts“. This was indeed a breath of fresh air.

Najam Sethi on Aapas Ki BaatNot only did Sethi cite the actual clauses of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic immunity (which Pakistan has ratified) that have been furiously talked about but never actually specifically referenced, but also put into context the whole issue in light of contemporary history and geopolitical realities. Now, others may question his interpretations of the Vienna Convention or the heretofore unknown ‘facts’ he presented as definite realities (we have no way of determining their veracity but he did stake his reputation on their authenticity), but I hope such challenges, if they do come, will be based on proof rather than vague emotionalism.

Cafe Pyala provides as comparison the way the issue was handled by Kamran Khan and his guest Shireen Mazari who trots out the old conspiracy theory that Ambassador Husain Haqqani is issuing visas to ‘suspicious foreigners’ in effort to somehow connect him to the Raymond Davis case. But as Dawn reports today, Raymond Davis’s visa was not issued by the Washington Embassy.

Diplomatic sources in Islamabad said that Raymond Davis had first received a three-month diplomatic visa on a diplomatic passport on request of the US State Department in September 2009. That is the only visa issued to him by the Pakistan embassy in Washington.

On that occasion, the State Department had said Davis would be visiting Pakistan for a short term as a technical adviser. Subsequently, Davis received extensions to his visa in Islamabad or elsewhere.

His presence in Pakistan after the expiry of his first visa in December 2009 was neither known to nor authorised by the Pakistan embassy in Washington or the Foreign Office.

Why Shireen Mazari brings up Husain Haqqani in a discussion of the Raymond Davis case is a question that should be asked. It is already established that the Embassy in Washington did not issue the visas, so why is it entering the debate? Kamran Khan and Shireen MazariIt appears that this is another example of media personalities using tragic events to promote a particular political agenda rather than simply providing and commenting on the facts.

Stories like the Raymond Davis case are delicate diplomatic matters between states, and it is imperative that the people have the facts straight so that they understand why government officials take whatever actions they deem necessary. It is also important that the facts are presented objectively so that the officials responsible for making decisions at such a highly diplomatic level are not confused or misled in their own right.

The Raymond Davis case is more than simply a diplomatic mess, though – it is a question of specific facts and laws. In other words, it is a legal case. There has been much complaining in the media about US officials trying to influence the government one way or the other. These journalists should take their own advice. Presently the matter is sub judice and not sub media.

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  1. Living in America, and unable to read Urdu (though I understand a lot of it), I have to rely on the English-language press. Normally, the English-language press should be more rational and mature than its Urdu-counterparts, but it is only added to the confusion.

    Many can’t get the shooter’s man right. He’s been described as a CIA operative/Blackwater/Xe/terrorist/murderer, etc. The press is already calling him a murderer event though he is claiming self-defense.

    Instead of getting holds of verifiable facts, the media is speculating, fanning the anti-American flame, which is already over-heated. I, for one, am waiting for the formal police report and the judicial proceedings. It will probably much more fair than being tried by the media.

  2. […] here: Raymond Davis Case Is Sub Judice, Not Sub Media | Pakistan Media Watch Filed Under: Media Tagged With: actual, actual-clauses, cite-the-actual, […]

  3. I think the blame for this all goes to both our government & the US government that have been lying to their citizens through the years. By ‘our government’ i mean the military establishment with whose full knowledge these individuals belonging to private contractors are being allowed inside the country.

    Whatever the merits of the case can a Pakistani diplomat ever murder two Americans on the streets of New York in this manner & get away with it by claiming diplomatic immunity? I don’t think it would be such an open & shut matter.

    It is also emerging that his name is not actually Raymond Davis but that it is just a cover. And what was he doing travelling in a private car with a weapon in the first place?

    Yesterday on a TV channel, Salim Safi of GEO Group said that he had written an article 6 months back that over 80 visas were issued to Americans from Dubai in violation of many rules & he had the documentary evidence with him to prove it.

    If the establishment & the government allow such individuals inside the country then these types of incidents are going to happen. This was not an ordinary diplomat with the presence of mind to shoot dead two individuals in the middle of a busy market.

  4. Fifth Columnist MAK Lodhi of Jang Group & Case of Raymond Davis.
    The trash which Shaheen Sehbai usually file in The News International are quite detrimental for Pakistan’s National Security [as per the criteria of Shaheen Sehbai and The News International/GEO TV/DAILY JANG], here are some glimpses; http://chagataikhan.blogspot.com/2011/02/fifth-columnist-mak-lodhi-of-jang-group.html

  5. It is worrisome that the electronic and print media in Pakistan is being run in a manner that is unprofessional to say the least. Most of our television anchors are men and women with extreme right-wing agendas. One only needs to listen to some of the talk shows running wild on our television screens to hear some of the most flabbergasting opinions of those who are supposed to refrain from exposing their point of view and are meant to act objectively. From those anchors who tarnished Salmaan Taseer’s reputation and beliefs to those who degraded an entertainer for her antics across the border, everyone is serving their own agenda. There really is no point in watching these television channels anymore.

  6. […] « Raymond Davis Case Is Sub Judice, Not Sub Media […]

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