If history unfolds future, Washington will not allow Islamabad to try a detained US State Department employee, Raymond Davis, on charges of killing two men in Lahore late January. The imminent release of Mr. Davis, however, should not be interpreted as a defeat of the Pakistani media. They are in a win-win situation.
The Lahore shooting unleashed them to vent their spleen against the U.S. and Pakistan’s elected government, something they otherwise wouldn’t have gall to do. Over the years they have been saying that the now-renamed U.S. private security agency ‘blackwater’ was out to destabilize Pakistan. In live TV talk-shows and in newspaper comments they repeat the mantra that “Davis’s action has proved all their claims right.”
The right-bended political leadership, in this case led by PML(N)--the ruling party of Sharif brothers in Punjab, and a highly charged media have already imprinted the public mind with labels: “Raymond Davis is a security contractor’; “Davis, the double murderer”; “blackwater’s real face exposed;” “Dying with honor is better than living in insolence--Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif”; and “federal government is releasing the shooter.”
The rabid anti-American anchors on TV channels are inviting comments of their choice with almost no question towards finding a solution. And if an analyst of Shafqat Mehmood cadre talks of the possibility of a negotiated settlement (Diyyat--compensation for blood), an anchorperson of Kamran Khan type is there to play a recorded video of one of the widows of the Lahore shooting victim wherein she rules out settlement and demands ‘blood for blood’.
The bigoted anchorpersons will show a video of Mr. Davis telling the police he was a contractor, when an analyst commits ‘a slip of the tongue’ and uses the title ‘diplomat’ or ‘consulate official’ for the U.S. State Department employee.
And as if the war-mongers in the media are not fighting the ‘cause’ of Pakistan vis-à-vis United States to the best of the nation’s satisfaction, here comes the Taliban. They warned Islamabad of attacking the rulers if Mr. Davis was released and called on the courts that if they couldn’t punish the ‘culprit’, the Taliban are there to give him an ‘exemplary punishment.’
Mr. Davis’s action is condemnable but so is the role of the anchorpersons in ‘plain clothes’. They are intolerant towards a peaceful settlement of the issue and already portrayed the PPP-led government as a dirty dealer. Every civilian government, including that of the PPP, simply follows what civil and military establishment dictates to it. Today the establishment has opted for a battle on Mr. Davis case but tomorrow it will go for the release of the detained State Department employee.
And yet again the PPP is going to be the punching bag for the conspiratorial Pakistani media even if Mr. Davis is pardoned by the victims’ relatives. Then the media will say: “Zardari and Gilani sold out Pakistani blood.” Poor PPP—a loser-loser player in this out of the blue disastrous drama, plotted in Lahore and hijacked by the media, mullahs and military. And if the elected government is dissolved, so far an unfulfilled wish of the ‘sold out’ journalists, the Davis saga will top the charge-sheet.