WASHINGTON – Raymond Davis- the CIA contractor who was arrested after murdering two Pakistani men in Lahore revealed for the first time about his experience in Pakistan in his memoir.
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Titled The Contractor: How I Landed in a Pakistani Prison and Ignited a Diplomatic Crisis, the memoir is sure to stir controversy in Pakistan as it exposes the role of state institutions secretly helping Raymond to fly off to US settling the murder case using the Sharia law.
Jan 27, 2011: Raymond Murders two Lahori Men
Raymond Davis’ controversy started in January 2011 when at Lahore’s Muzang Chowk, the US official gunned down two men on suspicion.
“I had left the house that morning with 17 rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber, and while defending myself at Muzang Chowk, I squeezed off 10 as I aimed for the two men on the motorcycle.
“And in a matter of two or three seconds, the entire engagement, from the moment I saw the threat to the moment it had been eliminated, was over.”
Davis detailed that he unclicked his seatbelt and drew his gun as soon as he saw a gun muzzling in his direction.
He says that the two men on the motorcycle who pulled in front of him at Lahore’s Mozang Chowk could not have known how fast he was at drawing his weapon.
“My fastest time — including lifting my shirt, drawing my gun, aiming it and firing — was .95 of a second, while my average was 1.1 second. That’s about as long as it takes a hummingbird to flap its wings fifty times or a plane to travel 800 feet.”
Davis used a brand new Glock17 gun, issued to him on his arrival in Lahore. Other things — camera, phone and Motorola two-way radio — he received from the CIA contractor he replaced.
Claiming that he had never killed a man before, Davis writes: “Thankfully, all 10 rounds I fired found their intended targets.”
He also refers to the autopsy report, showing that he hit one victim, Muhammad Faheem, once in the left thigh, once in the right thigh, twice in the chest and once in the back of the head leading to instant death.
The other victim, Faizan Haider, took five rounds in the back. He tried to run away but collapsed and died in the median about 30 feet away from Davis’ car.
Moreover, a car coming to rescue Davis killed a third man, Ibadur Rahman, in a hit-and-run while speeding on the wrong side of the road.
Davis was shortly arrested after the acident and legal proceedings against him started formally, as did protests and demands for the government to execute him.
CIA Director Leon Panetta, ISI chief General Pasaha’s Role
Davis in his memoir, that has been released after a delay of one year highlights the role played by ISI chief General Pasha in securing his release. He also briefly mentions former Pakistani ambassador Husain Haqqani.
“No two characters in this unfolding drama worked farther below the waterline than … CIA director Leon Panetta and … Pasha,” he writes.
Davis divulged the juxtaposition between the professional experience of CIA and ISI director terming the appointment of the former a surprise owing to ‘very little experience in the military and intelligence communities’.
Davis mentions a meeting between Pasha and Panetta in which the ISI chief asked Mr Panetta “point-blank if I worked [for] the CIA. Panetta responded that I didn’t and that the State Department, not the CIA, was handling the matter.”
“Gen Pasha was angered by Panetta’s response and grew even more so when Ambassador Munter, after clearing it with officials from the White House and State Department, explained to him the exact nature of my job.”
Davis manitained that Pasha understood how important it was — for both sides — to get me out of Pakistan as soon as possible, but like his country’s president and prime minister, he was happy to let me remain in jail until an acceptable solution could be found.”
Highlighting the role of Hussain Haqqani, a pro-American ambassador of Pakistan to US, Davis revealed that Panetta held deliberations with him on Feb 21, 2011, and asked for his assistance in getting me out of jail.
“In this instance he was not so accommodating,” wrote Davis.
Secret Oman Huddle
Two days after the Haqqani-Panetta meeting, another meeting comprising the top military brass from both countries met at a luxury beach resort in Oman.
Although the meeting was convened in the backdrop of war in Afghanistan and was scheduled prior to Davis’ arrest but this issue consumed a large partition of it.
“Both sides left saying all the right things.”
Davis’ Final appearance with ISI chief in Court Room
The CIA contractor who became the centre of a diplomatic row between Gillani and Obama administration blew the lid off what happened inside courtroom in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat Jail in his final appearance on March 16, 2011.
He describes the scene in some detail:
“I imagine that at least one of his (Gen Pasha’s) texts described the entrance of a man in a suit, whom I recognised but whose name I could not recall,” he writes.
“As soon as this man entered the courtroom, the room went silent. No one spoke a word. If a cell phone rang, the person to whom it belonged got up and walked outside to answer it. The only thing you could hear was the ceiling fan.”
Davis asked a US embassy official who this man was who identified him as an ISI colonel and said: “He’s a fixer”
“What’s that mean?” Davis asked.
“Let me put it this way. It’s either really good that he’s here or really bad,” the embassy official said. “Well,” I said, grinning at the official, “let’s hope for option number one.”
It was during this session that the court decided to apply the Sharia law, instead of the penal code.
“What’s going on here Carmela,” Davis asked another embassy official.
“They’ve switched to Sharia law, Ray,” she replied.
“I can’t believe they can get away with this. I’m toast, right? They’re going to drag me into this prison’s courtyard and stone me to death,” Davis said.
“No, Ray. That’s qisas. Sharia law also allows for diyat, which the families of the victims have agreed to accept,” Carmela said.
“I could hear words coming out of her, but they made no sense to me, Qisas? Diyat? Huh?” he writes.
“Qisas basically means ‘eye for an eye,” Carmela explained and Davis gulped as he assumed this would be his fate.
“Carmela must have seen that fear in my eyes because she hurriedly continued: ‘There’s also diyat, known as blood money. In this case, compensation gets paid to the victim or the victim’s heirs, and the accused goes free.”
Davis’ Plan to Leave Pakistan
Davis writes that the plan of him leaving Pakistan had been made several weeks before his final appearance in the court, originated perhaps in a meeting between Secretary Kerry and Ambassador Haqqani four weeks earlier.
Davis also refers to another report, which says that this plan was devised during a meeting between Gen Pasha and Ambassador Munter.
“The Pakistani military was also rumoured to have had a hand in it. So, too, President Zardari and Nawaz Sharif.”
From Pakistan to US Through ISI
Raymond Davis’ memoir that had been approved by the CIA after major redaction talks specifically about the role of ISI in his release and safe travel to US.
He claims that the CIA gave a green light to his observations regarding General Pasha when he was texting the proceedings to Leon Panetta sitting inside the courtroom.
In the last chapter, Davis claims that “ISI … orchestrated my exit. Several guards led me out of the courtroom through a back entrance. … One of the men opened the door, stepped out into a courtyard, and scanned the horizon … once he’d cleared the area, I was waved through door and directed to the SUV idling in the courtyard.”
In the SUV, he met Dale Rush, a doctor from the US Embassy, and a Pakistani man who introduced himself as a colonel. The driver was also from the US Embassy.
The SUV drove him to an airport where a dual-engine Cessna was waiting for him at the runway, with its engine running, and all set to take off.
Davis says that (then) US ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter, also was in the plane that flew him to Kabul because “with the ambassador onboard the plane, the Pakistanis would not dare mess around with by denying it clearance to take off”.
Davis’ release and Osama Bin Laden’s Hunt
Apparently, no connection could be drawn between Raymond Davis’ release and search operation to track down Osama bin Laden but the memoir gives a different view.
According to Davis, CIA picked up some valuable intelligence about Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, who was believed to be bin Laden’s personal courier in 2010
“It was the agency’s most promising lead in the hunt for bin Laden since 2001,” he says.
Davis claims that the US administration wanted to bring him out of Pakistan because it had plans to take out Osama bin Laden and knew that it would be impossible to get him out once that operation was carried out.
“The reason for the US government to get me out sooner rather than later was growing increasingly urgent, and the reason was even more secretive than the efforts to get him out,” he writes.
That’s why, he adds, “those…responsible for my welfare needed to get me out of the country first, and they needed to do it fast before bin Laden could slip away once again.”