Flogging the dead horse of visa conspiracies

Feb 3rd, 2011 | By | Category: Geo TV, Jang, The News

Flogging the dead horse of visa conspiracy

The conspiracy theory about ‘suspicious foreigners’ being issued visas by the Embassy in Washington is a horse long dead. Nevertheless, journalists continue to drag it into the street for a public flogging whenever possible. With the arrest of the American Raymond Davis for shooting two men in Lahore in what he claims was self defense, this conspiracy theory was dusted off and dragged back into the streets for one more beating.

We noted yesterday that Raymond Davis’s visa was not issued by the Washington Embassy after Shireen Mazari dragged this old conspiracy theory out on Kamran Khan’s show of Monday night. As a reminder, this what Dawn reported on the issue:

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.

Obviously, it did not make any sense for Shireen Mazari to keep flogging the horse long after it is declared dead, and it makes even less for Ansar Abbasi to take the stick from Shireen’s hand to continue the flogging. In fact, this horse has been dead for quite some time. But since when have Shireen Mazari or Ansar Abbasi let the facts get in the way of a good conspiracy?

Ansar Abbasi blatantly ignores all the facts in his latest column for The News, replacing facts instead with innuendo. He begins by suggesting that the fault of the shooting is partially with President Zardari for expanding visa requests by Americans and in the Washington Embassy issuing Raymond Davis’s visa.

This situation has built up in the backdrop of last year’s extraordinary laxity allowed in the visa policy for American officials following President Asif Ali Zardari’s personal intervention without the approval of the federal cabinet.

The policy, which has already started pinching many in the Foreign Office and security agencies, has resulted in visas issued by the Pakistani Embassy in Washington without any security clearance.

However, as we have already shown the Washington Embassy was not the issuing office. Abbasi even noticed another hole in his conspiracy and tries to patch it up without anyone noticing.

Details show that Davis, who is suspected to be either a CIA agent or member of a private agency like Blackwater, had been issued visa before the introduction of the new but extremely vulnerable system under which Pakistan’s Embassy in Washington is free to issue visa to anyone without any security clearance from Pakistani security agencies.

Did you catch what Ansar Abbasi just admitted? Raymond Davis’s visa was issued BEFORE President Zardari could have requested any changes to visa policy. So Raymond Davis’s visa was not issued by the Washington Embassy and was not issued after Zardari requested any changes to visa policy. If this is the case, it must be asked why does Ansar Abbasi try to make these connections in the minds of his readers? It is reasonable to conclude that part of the reason must be a political agenda. But there is possibly something more going on.

The answer comes as the reader continues. Ansar Abbasi claims that “from January 1, 2010 to 14 July 2010, a total of 1,895 officials and diplomats were issued visas by the Pakistan Embassy in Washington”. Whether or not these figures are accurate is unknown. What is known is that Raymond Davis was not one of those people. Again the question must be asked why Ansar Abbasi continues to point out irrelevant and unrelated facts.

What Ansar Abbasi is doing is making all Americans in Pakistan ‘guilty by association’. His argument is that Raymond Davis is an American with a visa and he shot someone, so maybe every other American with a visa will also shoot someone. This is the same argument that American right-wing zealots make about Muslims. They say that Faisal Shazad tried to kill Americans, and Faisal Shahzad is Muslim, therefore Americans should fear all Muslims. Ansar Abbasi’s anti-American rhetoric is cut from the same cloth as his Islamophobic counterparts on the American right-wing.

The truth is that most Muslims in America (or anywhere on Earth) are not terrorist bombers. Also most Americans in Pakistan (or anywhere on Earth) are not shooting people in the streets. Claims to the contrary are fictions invented as a strategy of ‘fear-based politics’.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik told the Senate today that Raymond Davis was carrying a diplomatic passport and a valid visa that was issued after a security clearance. He also noted that Raymond Davis’s name has been placed on the Exit Control List. Earlier this week, President Zardari told a delegation of US Congressmen that Raymond Davis’s case is before the courts and the legal course must be allowed to complete.

Ansar Abbasi does not bother to dispute the facts. What he does is try to put fear in the minds of the people based on innuendo and ‘guilt by association’. Raymond Davis is being held by the police and the law is taking its course. As if they are disappointed that the government is not acting as a lap dog to the US, Shireen Mazari and Ansar Abbasi create scandal where there is none. There has already been one tragedy suffered. Let’s stop trying to make it worse, please.

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