The Lahore shootout. How long it can and should go?
The killing of three people by an American citizen in capital city of Punjab, Pakistan is indeed a shocking incident. The man in question alleged that he acted in self defense and the guys were decoits who wanted to rob him of the freshly withdrawn money from an ATM. However, the postmortem examination report belies his saying by stating that the killed were fired upon from behind. Revelations of the use of forbidden bullets and an allegedly weapon without a valid license has further complicated the situation. Equally shocking is the demand by American embassy for his immediate release, saying that he enjoys the diplomatic immunity. According to the newspapers, however, he is on a business visa and was not there on a diplomatic duty neither did he had a diplomatic escort with him. So, what was he doing there? Complicated, isn’t it?
How far will it go? Pakistan has so far shrugged off any request (read: pressure) for his immediate release. And it would be quite unwise even if the government makes its mind up for the same. The anti American sentiments are high at this time and religio-political parties will take it as a blessing in disguise as for the upcoming (midterm?) elections. American statement is unwise too as they should keep their own image in mind while putting any such pressure. Already people are angry over daily killings by American drones in the North West.
So, in my view, the judicial process will take its course as no politician can afford to please America on the cost of his own life or career. However, at some point in the future, government will have to back down under the American pressure that will be raised to a level in coming days or weeks. A symbolic bargain can very well satisfy the public here in Pakistan. If America asks for a presidential pardon for their citizen, a similar demand can be forwarded for Dr Siddiqui too, who was given 86 years of prison although she hadn’t killed anyone at all. A one sided presidential pardon to the American gunman by Pakistan would be an injustice as well as a political disaster for the ruling coalition.
Worse? Can Pakistan refuse to American demands and go for carrying out whatever sentence the court hands down to the gunman? This is not possibility even if the black warrants are issued when JI has won the next election by 2/3rd majority in center and provinces and an endless goldmine is discovered right below Mansoora. Besides this, how long a country can go for 3 of their citizens when hundreds have been killed extra-judicially, both by American drones and terrorists. After all it is Musharraf’s Pakistan.