Poor Reporting on Raymond Davis Confusing Issues

Feb 15th, 2011 | By | Category: Daily Times, Dawn, The Nation, The News

The Raymond Davis case continues to dominate media headlines, though the people are probably more confused than ever about the facts due to poor reporting on the issue.

Ansar Abbasi has termed the issue in The News ‘the Lal Masjid of present govt’, a term he appears to have borrowed from Hamid Gul.

“A national consensus has developed on the issue of Davis. The people demand his trial here and are not ready to see him going in US hands without being punished,” former ISI chief Lt Gen (r) Hamid Gul said, warning that if the man is given back to Washington it would not only depress ordinary Pakistanis but would serve as another Lal Mosque disaster.

Hamid Mir’s report in The News is seasoned with such phrases as “imperial arrogance” and “shady secret agents”. He then quotes anonymous ‘diplomats’ that make sensationalist claims such as, “tomorrow Raymond Davis type secret agents may kill more people in other capitals of the world and then the US will claim diplomatic immunity”, or compare Raymond Davis to Taliban and al-Qaeda terrorists. It must be noted that Taliban and al-Qaeda terrorists do not have any claim to diplomatic status.

Other reports in The News have quote Munawar Hassan terming MNA Fauzia Wahab’s statement that Raymond Davis is entitled to diplomatic immunity as “a disgrace to the ‘Shuhda’ of Pakistan”, once again invoking ghairat in place of actual facts on the law.

This is a similar position taken by The Nation which published an editorial today which says,

It would seem that asking for his release is morally wrong of the US, and, at the same time, handing him over to Washington would demonstrate Pakistan’s undue weakness, reflecting its unhesitating compliance with the US commands, right or wrong.

Pakistan Today published the headline ‘Charge Raymond under anti-terrorism sections’ and quotes from the bereaved families of the dead men. Certainly this is an emotional issue, but emotions should not have bearing on the facts.

Dawn published one of the worst examples of emotional manipulation and terrorising the people which is Mohsin Hamid’s article comparing Americans to hunters paying to kill Pakistanis in cold blood.

So what is going on? Who is Raymond Davis, and what are people like him doing in Pakistan? I’ve read articles likening him to Rambo and RoboCop. But I believe another Hollywood film franchise metaphor is more apt. Predator.

The Raymond Davis affair has brought home what should have been obvious to us Pakistanis for a long time. Pakistan has become a game preserve, a place where deadly creatures are nurtured, and where hunters pay for the chance to kill them.

What is missing from all of these discussions is the fact that the issue rests on one question only which is does Raymond Davis enjoy diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Conventions, not on emotional manipulation, ghairat, or sensational horror stories about Americans hunting Pakistanis in the streets.

This poor reporting has not been unnoticed by Dr Syed Mansoor Hussain, who writes in Daily Times that every journalist who terms Raymond Davis as ‘Rambo’ should be forced to sit through the movies until they know what they are talking about.

It was also interesting that some ‘intrepid’ journalists started to refer to Davis as ‘Rambo’. Clearly none of them had ever seen a Rambo movie. Rambo, as they should know, is always on the right side of morality, always gets his man, always escapes the clutches of evil, sadistic and clearly bigoted oppressors and tormentors by killing most if not all of them. And yes he never wears a shirt. So for those who continue to compare Davis with Rambo and do so without having any idea what Rambo represents should in my opinion be forced to see all the Rambo movies one after another for three days in a row without being allowed to fall asleep.

Dr Hussain’s point is on worth thinking about because, as he points out the case is being exploited for political agendas

The Davis scenario is getting progressively complicated. The reason is politics. Anti-American sentiment is rampant in Pakistan and anything which even remotely reeks of pro-Americanism is immediately seized upon by the religious parties and politicians of a ‘certain’ predisposition to vilify the present government of Pakistan.

Though Dr Hussain writes specifically of relgious parties here, the same can be said of the media. When Ansar Abbasi is not taking advice on diplomacy from Hamid Gul, he proposes there is a threat of ‘a possible Hollywood Rambo-style sting operation by the US forces to get Raymond Davis released’. The Nation, never one to be easily outdone in anti-American zeal, uses the term ‘Rambo’ over 100 times since the incident!

All of this fills the pages with spicy and sensational stories that may sell to an audience which is hungry for action movies. But while we are filling our bellies with this channey, our minds are starving for relevant facts and information. Instead of demanding that the US stop pressurizing the government on Raymond Davis diplomatic status, the media should stop playing the anti-American card and give the reader something that will help him understand the situation, not give him indigestion.

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