Saturday, January 29, 2011

Diplomatic Crisis in Pakistan

An American diplomat in Lahore has been arrested for shooting to death two Pakistanis who were apparently trying to rob him. The US Embassy and the US  Government are demanding the release of the man under diplomatic immunity. As it stands now, the man remains in police custody and prosecution for murder procedures are in the works.

Below is the official US reaction:

And here is the usual reaction on the street:

This appears to be a clear cut case of diplomatic immunity, especially since even the local police state that the two victims were in fact, trying to rob the American. As for why he was carrying a gun in the first place, I can offer an insight. Under diplomatic agreements between countries, certain diplomats, depending on their agency and other factors may be granted an official license by the host country to carry firearms. When I was stationed in Thailand and Italy with DEA and carrying a diplomatic passport in the former and official in the latter,* I carried a firearm authorized by official gun licenses issued by the Thai and Italian governments since my job entailed working with their respective police forces and actually participating in certain enforcement operations with them. (We were never authorized to make arrests.)

* If you are working in an embassy, you are given a diplomatic passport. Normally those working in consulates in other cities carry official passports.

I remember in Thailand, there was  case of a female French intelligence officer who was the intended victim of an armed robbery. She shot her assailant to death. (She was covered by diplomatic immunity and not charged.)

As the facts are reported, there is no justification for holding this person in custody or prosecuting him. Diplomatic immunity is often abused and can lead to infuriating results when a clear cut case of criminality must go unpunished in the host country. In cases where actual crimes were committed by the diplomat, the involved country may waive that immunity and allow the person to be prosecuted by the host country as happened in Washington some years ago when the Georgian government waived immunity of one of their diplomats who had killed people while driving drunk.

In spite of its obvious drawbacks, diplomatic immunity is designed to prevent abuses such as what happened in Iran in 1979. It should be applied in this case. If this American is not released, in my view, it should be the final straw between the US and this useless country.


Siarlys Jenkins said...

Yes, this diplomat should be released.

I wish it was so simple as cutting off ties with this useless country. If only we had finished the job in Afghanistan, instead of shifting to Iraq because it had better targets. If only Pakistan didn't have a stockpile of nuclear weapons. If only the Taliban and al Qaeda weren't in a stronger position in Pakistan than in Afghanistan. If only cutting ties wouldn't look like abandoning south Asia to al Qaeda, after we lined up all kinds of people to support our attempt to go after them. What a mess.

Gary Fouse said...