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Why Pakistan would not be able to prosecute a ‘killer’ US diplomat once again?

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News Analysis |

The killing of an Islamabad-based citizen in an accident involving Joseph Emanuel, American military attaché has created a stir in the power corridors of the country with many arguing over the prospects of the killing in the backdrop of supposed diplomatic immunity available to the embassy staffer.

The Islamabad High Court, as it heard the case regarding the killing, on Wednesday, remarked that even the diplomatic immunity could not grant the American diplomat ‘license to kill’, however, claims, how tall they might be, would fail in the face of international norms and procedures. The opaque world of diplomacy is sometimes ruthless as it definitely grants immunity to the embassy staffers stationed in other countries.

What differentiates the case of Joseph Emanuel from Raymond Davis – who had killed two Pakistani men – is the fact that the former is a recognized staff member of US embassy while the latter’s status was disputed, as it was claimed that Davis was a private contractor.

The case of Joseph is much easier for Washington as his diplomatic immunity is vivid and so another ‘killer’ tracing origin from United States would walk free, in just a matter of few days.

Even after it was confirmed that Davis’ diplomatic status was not so impressive, Pakistani prosecution system was not able to bar him from leaving the country, primarily due to the norms of international relations and Vienna convention. In the case of Emanuel, the damaging aspect for the US official is running a red light, before ramming his vehicle into the motorcyclist, who succumbed to his injuries.

Khawaja Asif, the Foreign Minister of Pakistan, had vowed to take legal action against the US official, however, as a matter of fact; it seems visible that the diplomat would be leaving the country unscathed. The Islamabad High Court was also cautious in handling the matter as it did not place the name of embassy staffer on Exit Control List and instead referred the matter to the committee, already dealing the matter.

Read more: Will Trump’s praise for Pakistan improve ties?

Moreover, Raymond Davis was also sent behind bars for 49 days, however, Emanuel’s location is still under the wraps, but he is definitely not inside any prison, though some cast the aspirations that the diplomat might had fled the country.

Khawaja Asif had vowed in August last year that he was ready to probe the matter of Raymond Davis, as he addressed the Upper House of the parliament, clearly mentioning that the Pakistani government had paid blood money to the heirs of the victims on behalf of Raymond Davis.

The opaque world of diplomacy is sometimes ruthless as it definitely grants immunity to the embassy staffers stationed in other countries. What differentiates the case of Joseph Emanuel from Raymond Davis – who had killed two Pakistani men.

Apart from the much talked about diplomatic immunity, Pakistan would not be able to get hold of American official due to its fractured ties with the United States, which were deteriorated after the outlandish tweet of Donald Trump on January 1st.

At one end, Pakistan is trying hard to impress the international community with its robust drive against terrorism – endorsed by NikolayKudashev, Russian envoy to India – but on the other hand, the Trump administration is hell bent in its claims that Pakistan needs to do more against terrorism and militancy.

Entrapped between damaged reputation on the international foray and bindings of the Vienna Convention, Islamabad would not find it okay to punish the diplomat in question. Moreover, as Pakistan imposed travel restrictions on US diplomats, Thomas Shannon, United States Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, also announced that Washington would enforce restrictions on Pakistani diplomats in the United States, as he interacted with Voice of America’s Uzbek Service.

The Trump administration official, however, downplayed the retaliation by stating that it was a routine matter, however, the political analysts view the killing of a Pakistani at the hands of the diplomat, a bone of contention between the two countries, engaged in deep relationship after the 9/11 bombings.

Read more: Operation Blue Star: When Sikhs were massacred by the Indian Army

Although Washington and Islamabad have been in a relationship which has never been so easy, the post-Trump era is appearing to be the most turbulent patch, with US considering Pakistan to be deceiving it after receiving millions of dollars, and Pakistan claiming that it was being taken for a ride.

Another example which draws an eerie juxtaposition between US attitude with other international players over its diplomats and its treatment of the same diplomat at home is Raymond Davis case, who escaped unscathed after being involved in a murder case in Pakistan, however, pleaded guilty in 2013 to assaulting a Colorado man in a dispute over a parking spot and received a probationary sentence spanning over two years.

The case of Joseph is much easier for Washington as his diplomatic immunity is vivid and so another ‘killer’ tracing origin from United States would walk free, in just a matter of few days.


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