Saturday, February 19, 2011

911 audio released of call made from Phoenix

PHOENIX - A week after "Malcolm in the Middle" star Frankie Muniz called police from his Phoenix home, we are getting a glimpse of the fight that prompted the 911 call that was made at 10:18 p.m.

911: Tell me your name
Muniz: I, I don't want to make a big deal because I’m, I’m a celebrity.

A woman in the background cries out: “Oh my God!”

That’s about the only time you can make out what she is saying.

Muniz: You need to calm down. (woman heard screaming in the background)
911: Frankie? She sounds really upset.

Muniz says that woman is his girlfriend, “her name's Elycia.”

Police list 25-year-old Francisco Muniz and 33-year-old Elycia Marie Turnbow as both suspect and victim of disorderly conduct.

Muniz told the operator, “Like, my girlfriend is drunk and she's going crazy and she's trashing my house. Literally lamps, everything and she's going crazy she's hitting me in the face. I don't know what to do because I’m, I’m about to lose control.”

As the 911 dispatcher tries to gather more information Muniz begs with her not to make this a big deal. He even begins to backtrack letting the dispatcher know he doesn’t even want anyone to come, he just was hoping she could help him calm her down.

“I don't want any charges; I just want her to stop throwing stuff,” Muniz says.

According to the police report, when officers arrived, Elycia claimed Frankie hit her and at one point held a gun to his own head.

Since nobody was there, it’s a he said, she said.

All we’ve got is what we can hear on the tape.

Muniz: Babe you just damaged the house you're still damaging it. Just leave it, leave it where it is babe.
Turnbow: You just hit me!
Muniz: I did not hit you, you punched me in the face because I was sleeping.

To the 911 dispatcher he added, “Ma'am I was literally sleeping and she came in, she had a pretty bad day, but she came in and punched me in the face.”

A gun was found in a closet and police removed it from the home.

For all the drama, the report says there were “no signs of injury, no signs of damage."

Police did not charge either of them, instead they offered a warning saying next time they could face jail time.

Frankie tells the 911 operator, “I love her so much. Now my, the love of my life hates me because she's, you know, having a bad day.”


Friday, February 18, 2011

Tech Lobbyists Have a Lot To Work With

Telecom and tech hit the jackpot in President Obama's budget, and the lobbyists and groups representing them are in the enviable position of shaping big investments with White House backing, National Journal Daily reported.

Technology issues are at the forefront of the political and legislative battles over how to stimulate the economy while reducing government spending, and tech companies and consumer organizations largely praised Obama's plan as a step in the right direction.

But even more than what the budget may or may not fund, the coming political fight over that money will likely define lobbying efforts in the near future.

South Korea Form Backdrop for Lobbyists Seeking Trade Deal

Hyundai Motor Co. cars being unloaded at Philadelphia’s port became props as U.S. business lobbyists and the South Korean government pushed for approval of a free-trade deal.

When President Barack Obama and congressional leaders discuss the agreement, renegotiated in December and set to be submitted to Congress in the coming weeks, they cite increases in U.S. exports to Korea. In Philadelphia, the South Korean-made cars are unloaded from South Korean-made cargo ships by South Korean-made cranes.

“This isn’t a story we have told well,” Tami Overby, vice president for Asia at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, said yesterday of the scene intended to show that imports are good for the American economy as well. “But America is about freedom of choice.”

The Chamber, the largest U.S. business lobbying group, arranged for South Korea’s Ambassador Han Duk Soo to visit the Philadelphia port and meet local political leaders to make the case for the agreement, the largest new deal to be sent to Congress since the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994.

Hyundai, the largest South Korean automaker, agreed last year to shift deliveries from New York and Baltimore to Philadelphia, meaning 150,000 Kia Souls, Hyundai Accents and Kia Rios are sent through the port’s Packer Avenue Marine Terminal. More than 1,800 were unloaded onto a port lot yesterday.

In addition, Hyundai Rotem Co., a unit of the auto company, is shipping the chassis of rail cars to the port and then building them out for sale to the local transit authority, Hyung Wook Kim, president of Hyundai Rotem USA, said in an interview.

Union Jobs

The imports are creating hundreds of jobs for union longshoremen, mechanics and assembly workers, said Thomas Holt, president of Holt Logistics Corp., which runs the port operations.

Because of those jobs, the local longshoreman’s union said it supports the free-trade agreement, which would eliminate tariffs on trade between the nations and set rules for investment and the protection of patents and copyrights.

“We’re on a decline in the United States and we’re not creating any jobs,” Martin Mascuilli, the secretary-treasurer of the local union that represents port workers, said in an interview. “Maybe with this deal we’ll be able to sell more cars in Korea. If we aren’t able to export our cars, what are we going to do with them?”

The AFL-CIO labor federation and unions in Washington have opposed the deal, saying it would cost U.S. jobs by increasing pressure on companies to move operations outside the U.S. and import more.

Lost Jobs

“The United States has lost 5 million jobs since Nafta, and the last thing America’s middle class needs right now is ‘Son of Nafta’,” Teamsters President James Hoffa said in a statement.

The Chamber of Commerce is organizing U.S. visits by Korean officials and business leaders as a way to highlight the benefits of the deal and counter unhappiness among voters and lawmakers about previous agreements, which many blame for lost jobs and stagnant wages.

Han said he has been meeting with lawmakers as well, to help push broad support for the deal amid a consistent complaint: “They say, ‘Look at Nafta, that was bad; look at China, that was bad. Why would we do this?’”

Unlike the trade deal with Mexico and the vote on China’s membership into the World Trade Organization, Korea is a more developed nation and has a falling, not rising, trade deficit with the U.S., he said.

“When it comes to Korea there is no word like ‘outsourcing’ or taking away jobs,” Han said. “The industries of the two countries are quite complementary.”

Han didn’t have to make that point to Harry Cassell, operator of the Korean-made crane at the port. As Han left a meeting with local politicians, Cassell stopped him and shook his hand: “I appreciate your Korean workmanship,” he said.


Lobbying firm interested in Herseth-Sandlin

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - A Washington, D.C., law and lobbying firm says it's talking with former U.S. Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin about joining the firm.

John Bode, principal lawyer with Olsson Frank Weeda, tells the Argus Leader that the firm would be "greatly flattered" to have the South Dakota Democrat who holds a law degree from Georgetown University. He says an arrangement has not been finalized.

1 of the firm's specialties is agriculture and food policy. Herseth Sandlin was a member of the House Agriculture Committee before losing her seat to Republican Kristi Noem in last year's election.

Herseth Sandlin has said she might consider running for office again. Some Democrats want her to run against Noem.

Noem says she's too busy representing the state's interests in Congress to worry about Herseth Sandlin's plans.

Information from: Argus Leader,

Lavender lobby,on the defense

RALEIGH — It was anti-gay, Gaston County Sen. Jim Forrester (R) who first called Equality North Carolina and its team “lavender lobbyists.” Forrester meant it as a jab; little did he know that LGBT journalists, bloggers and activists would later claim the phrase as their own.

For nearly a decade, conservative legislators like Forrester have led a relentless push to further institutionalize discrimination against LGBT North Carolinians by passing a constitutional amendment banning recognition of all same-sex relationships. It’s often called a “marriage amendment,” but the legislation very possibly could extend much further.

Ian Palmquist, Equality North Carolina’s executive director, says he’s proud of his organization’s ability to block the amendment, though such a victories with their own perils.

“I don’t want anyone to underestimate the threat,” Palmquist tells qnotes. “I think the fact that we’ve been able to stop this constitutional amendment for the last seven years may have some people feeling complacent, but the fact is that there is a very, very real threat of this going on the ballot in 2012.”

He adds, “We have to do everything we can this year as a community to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

At press time, the North Carolina General Assembly had been in session for a three weeks. At the end of their third week, legislators had yet to file any anti-LGBT measure. (As of Feb. 17, Forrester was planning on filing an amendment.) Palmquist cautions that such legislation could come at any moment.

“We absolutely expect that there will be an attempt to move the constitutional amendment to the ballot sometime in this legislative session,” he says, “and we’re doing everything we can to be ready for it whether it is tomorrow or in June or even in 2012.”

As previously reported by qnotes, Equality North Carolina has ramped up its efforts to reach out to legislators across party lines. Palmquist says his group has made inroads with some Republican legislators as they continue years-long conversations with Democrats.

“We’re doing everything we can to reach Republican legislators and opinion leaders to get them on our side and to make sure our messages are getting through,” Palmquist says, though declining to name specific legislators with whom his group had been in touch.

Palmquist’s group is also expanding. In mid-February they hired a new communications director — the first time the group has employed a staff member specifically tasked with communications responsibilities. Jenn Jones, a former communications and marketing project manager at UNC TV, will fill the role, giving Palmquist and Equality North Carolina’s lobbyist, Dean Plukett, more time to focus on legislative efforts.

Some of Jones’ new responsibilities will include social media outreach. Palmquist hopes it will increase awareness of his organization’s mission in Raleigh.

“So much attention in the media goes to what’s happening in Washington, D.C., and its easy for people to miss that a lot of the decisions that effect their lives the most are made at the state level,” he says.

As Palmquist continues his advocacy at the General Assembly, he says he’ll keep reminding GOP legislators of the priorities voters had in mind when they shifted legislative power from the Democrats.

“We are encouraging legislators to focus on the issues that the voters were interested in in November and that was about jobs and the economy and the role of state government,” he says. “It was not about social issues.” : :

What they do

As confusing as statewide and local politics can often be, you can know one thing for certain: There is an LGBT advocacy organization working for our community’s benefit in Raleigh.

Equality North Carolina works to to keep our issues on the forefront of the social agenda and works to protect our issues when such agendas turn negative.

“Equality North Carolina’s role is to be an advocate at the state level so that we have a consistent, professional lobbying presence at the General Assembly advocating for fairness,” says Equality North Carolina Executive Director Ian Palmquist.


Citizen lobbyists rally to protect environmental progress

OLYMPIA — Hard-pressed lawmakers need to keep two words in mind as they slog through budget autopsies and haul pop bottles to Oregon for refunds: User pays.

Tuesday was Environmental Lobby Day at the state Capitol, and citizen lobbyists bused in from all over Washington took two strong themes to their legislators: Maintain fees for their intended purposes and raise fees to match costs.

Valiant efforts to clean up Washington's waterways, protect its lakes and rivers and generally make the state a healthy place to live and work are undercut by shameless raids on funds collected to do those jobs.

The weather in Olympia was as chilly as the economic climate, but more than 500 people, snugged up in green scarfs, spread out across the Capitol campus to meet with lawmakers, attend hearings and hone their skills in advocating for the public interest.

Lobbying day relies on the organizational skills and talents of People for Puget Sound, celebrating its 20th year, but it is the credibility to attract the likes of first-timer Gay Schy, a Vashon Island resident, that empowers the event. Her concern about Puget Sound water issues brought her to Olympia to meet with lawmakers from her 34th District.

The 19th annual lobbying day was hosted by the 25 organizations of the Environmental Priorities Coalition. Each session, it selects and targets four goals. Next time you easily recycle a TV or computer, thank the coalition.

This session, in addition to realistic budgeting for the environment, the coalition seeks timely closure of the TransAlta coal-fired power plant in Centralia, reduction of phosphorus pollution from fertilizers and a fee on the wholesale value of toxic pollutants to clean up water pollution.

How difficult has it been to wrestle with the state's financial mess? In separate conversations Tuesday with Gov. Chris Gregoire and state Sen. Joe Zarelli, R-Ridgefield, ranking minority member of the Ways and Means Committee, they each said nice things about the other. Honest.

Both repeat the same sentiments: There are no good choices, and there are no options to balance things out.

Gregoire is mindful that after a stellar record of public service — my characterization — she is participating in the dismantling of her career — her characterization. Wholesale evisceration of programs that undo years of exemplary progress as director of the state Department of Ecology, attorney general and governor.

Given the horrific budget and economic realities, environmental concerns — and opportunities — trail education and health care as priorities. The danger is compounding problems by not doing what is possible.

Citizen lobbyists were consistent and positive in asking how they could help, repeating concerns about eroding expensive progress already made. The imperative for legislators was direct: Don't slip backward.

Ideas abound. Public Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark, director of the Department of Natural Resources, is promoting a pass to cover access to all lands managed by DNR, the state Department of Fish & Wildlife and state parks. Keep them open and scrub the toilets. The latter will close the deal for many pass buyers.

Raise fees for DNR forest practice permit applications. Have the beneficiaries of that lucrative access to state timber pay fees that reflect the cost of managing the land.

Likewise, update the fees connected with the management and oversight of the state's water resources. Making appropriate and overdue adjustments to fee schedules is in the best spirit of preparing for the future.

Lawmakers, urged on by citizens from around the state, can maintain funds for their intended use, raise fees to match costs and create fee-structures that pay for jobs that yield clean water.

Politics do not get any closer to home.


Clinton: Taliban must choose war or peace

BEIJING, Feb. 19 (Lobbying Activist) -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says that the Taliban and other extremists in Afghanistan must choose between war and peace.

Her warning comes amidst an escalating diplomatic crisis with Afganistan's neighbor Pakistan, that could have a knock-on effect on its military operations and was delivered in a speech to the Asia society in New York.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Why did Qureshi lose his job

Last week, Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir famously said that one man should not be allowed to destroy more than 60 years of US-Pakistan relations.
He was referring to Raymond Davis — assuming that is really the name of the American — currently, facing the court of law in Lahore for the murder of two Pakistani citizens, which the city’s top cops have, based on their findings, concluded was not in self defence as given to believe by the US national.
A third innocent citizen on a motorbike was also killed as a result of reckless driving by a US Consulate car called for help by Davis, when the vehicle was driven on the wrong side of the road.
Complicating matters was the death by suicide of the distraught wife of one of the two Pakistani citizens killed by Davis because she felt she wouldn’t get justice and that the American killer would eventually be released by her government.
The central plank in this intriguing drama is the hotly contested provision or lack of diplomatic immunity subscribed to the American killer. It hasn’t helped at all that the US embassy initially, described Davis as technical staff of the Consulate but later demanded his immediate release with claims of diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention.
For its part, Islamabad didn’t clear the air until long — giving rise to speculation that a grand cover-up was in the works to eventually, free the American even as both the federal government and the administration in Punjab, Pakistan’s strategically powerful province ruled by Shahbaz Sharif, brother of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, tried to skirt the issue.
However, when the court intervened and twice gave judicial remand of the American, it emboldened both the Centre and the provincial administration to stand up to Washington, which however continues to ratchet up intense heat with stern calls from President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to free Davis with reportedly, threats of punitive action in the event of failure to do so.
Not only did Clinton scupper a meeting in Munich with Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who, as a consequence, did not travel to Switzerland. Qureshi then lost his job as foreign minister in a cabinet reshuffle purportedly, for refusing her demand for Davis’ release and daring to disclose to the media that the American, in fact, does not enjoy diplomatic immunity.
Since then Washington has also postponed a trilateral summit with Islamabad and Kabul in a move seen by critics as the first real sign of rupture. There are also reports that if the American, who has been barred by the court from leaving Pakistan before a verdict is released on his fate, Washington would stop financial aid to Islamabad.
However, it is the controversial exit of Qureshi that has hogged the limelight in Pakistan, and it has the potential to ignite the fuse given the popular perception that he resolutely withstood Washington’s onslaught but refused to bow on a matter of principle.
Qureshi said as much in his farewell speech at the Foreign Office last week.
The suave former foreign minister, whose son works at the office of Democratic Senator John Kerry, revealed that despite friendly ties with Secretary Clinton, he had refused her demand for declaring immunity for Davis and chose to sacrifice personal interest for his country.
But what has got the goat of ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) is that Qureshi chose to air the fact about Davis’s non-diplomatic status at a time when Islamabad was under immense pressure to deliver and the now-resigned Interior Minister Rehman Malik had belatedly claimed that the American did have a diplomatic visa, which he had allowed after a thorough investigation by the intelligence agencies pertaining to his credentials.
The public sentiment at this late assertion is one of disbelief and fueled anger at the government.
However, PPP’s inner circle ridicules the theory surrounding Qureshi’s denial of diplomatic status for Davis as the cause for his removal from the federal cabinet.
Sources within the party say he has been shown the door since he was toeing the line of Aabpara, a euphemism for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), which reportedly, earned him the unflattering sobriquet of “Mr Aabpara?
Qureshi refused the portfolio of water and power ministry in the reshuffle that saw him lose his job as foreign minister. In fact, he was so miffed at the decision that he did not even turn up at the swearing-in ceremony at the President House, which annoyed the president.
Subsequently, a slew of former and current federal ministers as well as the party’s information secretary launched a severe attack on Qureshi in what was seen as a scripted move.
Noticeably, those heaping scorn on Qureshi — now an increasingly familiar practice against those offering a dissenting note within the ruling party — were loyalists, who do not compare in terms of the stature and calibre of political giants like Qureshi.
But as well as endearing Qureshi to the people, who are greatly turned off by arrogant American attitude and allegations of acquiescence of their own government, the latest crisis is likely to make things even more difficult for Islamabad.
Already there are signs of fissures within the party with embarrassingly divergent views on what the government thinks about the status of Davis.
At a news conference in Karachi, PPP Secretary Information Fauzia Wahab said: “We have always abided by international laws and conventions. The Vienna Convention grants diplomatic immunity to diplomatic as well as technical staff?
She said under the Pakistani law — PLD 1972 — all diplomats enjoyed immunity and that Davis had an official business visa before controversially questioning “why argue and risk the overall good reputation before the rest of the world?”
Wahab stressed the need for maintaining good relations with the US, saying: “America is the largest market for Pakistan. Most Pakistanis, who live in the US, send bulk of remittances to us to support our economy.”
Within two hours of Wahab’s statement, Farhatullah Babar, a spokesman for the president, disowned it.
“The position of PPP on the issue of Raymond Davis is unambiguous. The issue is before the court and it is imprudent to comment on it before the court’s verdict,” Babr said before declaring
Wahab’s statement was “neither PPP policy nor government policy.”
lThe writer is a freelance journalist based in Islamabad and can be reached at


Raymond life really in danger

Raymond Davis has been sent to Central Jail Kot Lakhpat on a 14-day judicial remand. The next hearing will be on February 25. Earlier, Police submitted the provisional Challan requesting the court to take action against him under the Article 302 of Pakistan Penal Code. Washington is insisting that Davis killed two Pakistanis because they were trying to rob him but presently this seems not that important issue as his true identity and the question whether he has diplomatic immunity is a matter of concern.

The judge has also ordered the government to clarify about his diplomatic immunity. It is pertinent to mention here that US officials till to-date could not produce any certificate which is granted to diplomats upon arrival in Pakistan by Foreign Office under Diplomatic and Counsellors Act of 1972. Three persons killed in the in the incident of terrorism in Lahore included Faizan, Faheem and Ubaid ur Rehman. We should not forget that the newly wed wife of Faheem namely Shumaila is also linked to the incident as she committed suicide on February 5 because of too much US pressure on Pakistani government, Police and judicary to release the killer without any trial. In a televised interview from Allied Hospital, Faisalabad she said that she had swallowed the pills because she suspected that the government would release Davis and would not take action against him. She recorded her statement, “They are already treating my husband’s murderer like a VIP in police custody and I am sure they will let him go because of international pressure.”There are certain groups who demanded swap of Davis for Dr Aafia Siddiqui, the Pakistani neuroscientist who was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in an American court for attempting to murder her American interrogators in Afghanistan. We should not forget that the families of those killed want justice not a political bargain. One wonders why we fail to demand anything for those who are daily killed in Khyber PK, Tribal Areas and other parts of the country as a result of US attacks or for the Pakistani arrested on the charge of terrorism in US.

The true identity of Raymond Davis is yet to be ascertained but there are chances that he might also be associated with some front organization in the vicinity of Muzang. It is too early to say anything with uncertainty but the clips of important Madrassas and Mosques as well as Cantonment areas captured in his mobile clearly depicted that he was on a mission against Sunnis in Pakistan. Satellite phone and Global Positioning System (GPS) recovered from terrorist, Raymomd Davis was used for passing grid references of sensitive locations at various locations to Islamabad, Afghanistan and India. It is important to mention here that certain circles in US have admitted that Davis was former US Special Forces personnel and was in cover. Reportedly, Davis was employee of Special Activities Division that is associated with US Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) National Clandestine Service (NCS) and was involved in assassinations of important leaders in Pakistan, which Washington considered high value targets.

Public records in US reflected that Raymond Davis and his wife run a company namely Hyperion Protective Services which has been registered in Nevada. There are bright chances that the Sunni and Shia Ulema killed in the recent past was carried out by Davis and his terrorist group. The Pakistan authorities have confirmed that he visited Pakistan at least ten times on his passport but the fact cannot be ignored that his number of visits through porous Pak-Afghan border cannot be counted on fingers. He also visited India to correlate Mumbai attacks with religious groups in Pakistan. Bob Woodward, in his book ‘Obama’s Wars,’ has also confirmed presence of 3,000 US illegal operatives on specific assassination assignments in Pakistan. Washington is making fruitless attempts to invoke diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention. It is now the responsibility of the Pakistani authorities to protect this person at all costs in order to find out the truth behind all those killed by unknown religious extremists in Karachi, Quetta, Lahore, Peshawar and other cities of Pakistan.


US diplomat found guilty of killing Pakistanis

Lahore, Feb 11 (IBNS) A Lahore court on Friday found American diplomat Raymond Davis guilty of killing two Pakistani men.

The judicial magistrate's court at Model Town area remanded him to 14-day judicial custody.

"Davis has been remanded to judicial custody for 14 days. The next hearing will be on February 25," Punjab government’s prosecutor Abdul Samad told media outside the court.

He was taken to Kot Lakhpat jail after the court’s order.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has suspended all high-level bilateral contracts and talks with Pakistan over its refusal to release Davis, straining the already loaded ties between the two countries.

Thirty-six-year-old Raymond Davis, a tech and admin staff at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, who is said to be working on “security” issues, has been jailed since Jan. 27 on the double murder charge and speculation that he might be a spy.

Davis has admitted to shooting the two men, Mohammad Faheem and Faizan Haider, who he said were armed and trying to rob him. On Feb 6, the wife of Faheem, took poisonous pills and died.

Calling the incident a tragedy, U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley reiterated that Washington believed that Davis had diplomatic immunity and was acting in self-defence.

On Monday (Feb 7), American ambassador Cameron Munter met with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and requested that Davis be released, an U.S. embassy spokeswoman said.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is also said to have raised the issue at a conference in Munich during her talks with Pakistani army chief Ashfaq Kayani over the weekend and has also reportedly cancelled a meeting with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

According to The Washington Post, the Obama administration has suspended all high-level dialogue with Pakistan and has even called off a summit between the two nations and Afghanistan in Washington at the end of the month.

In Pakistan, the government risks an outburst from the anti-U.S. lobby which has already been protesting against America over the issue.

The claim by the Faheem’s wife’s doctor that she she killed herself since she did not expect justice from the Zardari-administration has also fanned heated sentiments.

The situation posts an ominous dilemma in front the Pakistani government which is battling growing anti-American protests amid economic and security problems and yet, can’t risk miffing the U.S. that grants the country billions of dollars in aid.


US-Pak ties strained over diplomat 'spy'

New Delhi: The US has put on hold all top-level contact with Pakistan for not releasing a diplomat who killed two people allegedly in self defence.

Thirty six-year-old Raymond Davis is listed as a member of the "technical and administrative staff" at the US Embassy in Islamabad. American officials have said Davis' work was "security" related, fueling speculation that he is a CIA agent.

On January 27, Davis shot and killed two Pakistanis, who he said, tried to rob him on their motorcycles. Now, Washington is demanding Davis' immediate release, citing diplomatic immunity, but Islamabad is not budging.

According to The Washington Post, things have become very bad. It says:

The Obama administration has now suspended all high-level dialogue with Pakistan
A planned US-Pakistan-Afghanistan summit at the end of the month in Washington may also be scrapped
In protest, Hillary Clinton canceled a meeting over the weekend with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi at a security conference in Munich
The US administration has formally complained to Pakistan, including in a phone call last week from Hillary Clinton to President Zardari

Other reports say President Zardari's visit to Washington in March may be cancelled.

"The phone call with President Zardari was largely about this issue," said PJ Crowley, State Department Spokesman.

In Pakistan itself, the incident has fueled more anti-Americanism, and this hasn't helped. On Monday, the wife of one of the Pakistani men killed by Davis, committed suicide, by eating rat poison. This was her funeral procession. A doctor said Shumaila Kanwal had said before she died that she was driven to commit suicide by fears the American would be freed without trial.

In another twist, the Pakistani media has said the two men shot by Davis were not robbers, but intelligence agents assigned to tail him.

The case puts Pakistan's government in a difficult position. If they hand over Davis, the strong anti-American lobby will accuse them of buckling under pressure. If they don't, it could seriously harm ties with the US, which gives Pakistan billions of dollars in aid.


Lynch lobbied Pakistani officials on behalf of arrested US State Dept. employee

WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Stephen F. Lynch, a South Boston Democrat, is on his way back from a Congressional trip to Pakistan, in which Lynch and other members personally lobbied Pakistani officials on the behalf of a US State Department employee who was arrested and held after shooting two alleged robbers on January 27.

The employee, Raymond Davis, a staff person at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, apparently thought he was about to be carjacked when approached by armed men on motorcycles, said Lynch, speaking by phone this morning from an airport in Madrid. Davis “shot through his own windshield” and killed two alleged attackers, said Lynch. US authorities say Davis has diplomatic immunity, but that claim is being contested.

Lynch said the incident has received inflammatory press coverage in Pakistan that has heightened tensions. “Politically, it’s a difficult situation,” he said.

Lynch and five other members of Congress urged Davis’ release in meetings with Pakistani Prime Minister Gilani, President Asif Ali Zardari and Army Chief of Staff, Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. “At each of these meetings, each of us hit this issue pretty hard,” said Lynch.

The Congressional delegation visited Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. A planned stop in Egypt was canceled due to civil unrest there.

Pakistani authorities are continuing to review Davis' case, said Lynch.


Pakistan to play role as a game changer

After 9/11, Pakistan was under tremendous pressure from the US and the West; despite joining the war on terror they continued to suspect Pakistan for aiding and ensconcing the Taliban operatives. It was perhaps in this backdrop that then president Pervez Musharraf acted as a ‘game-changer’ in the region by making an offer that Pakistan would resile from the stated position on Kashmir provided India did the same. He relied on Track II diplomacy and spelled out his out of box solution comprising four phases in chapter International Diplomacy of his book ‘In the Line of Fire’. With Pakistan and the US on loggerheads over the arrest of Raymond Davis who killed two motorcyclists, our government functionaries believe that there is need for a change in the strategy. Addressing the Diplomatic Correspondents Association on “Pakistan-India ties – Perspectives and Future”, Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir said: “Pakistan would certainly like to play the role of a game changer as far as our own affairs are concerned, especially in our immediate neighbourhood”. He added that geographic compulsions were compelling the country to set directions.

He however did not elaborate how the country envisioned its role as a ‘game changer’ in the region. He was also upbeat that Pakistan had made significant progress in ties with India and Afghanistan. He described the resumption of peace talks with India as a ‘significant breakthrough’, but did not raise expectations from the renewed process. Knowing India’s past, mere promise for resumption of talks cannot be viewed as a significant progress. During the last six decades, many rounds of dialogue including the stalled composite dialogue were held, but there was no progress on resolving the core issue of Kashmir. On 24th May 1964, Sheikh Abdullah was asked by Jawaharlal Nehru to help in solving the complex problem, and he visited Pakistan as his emissary. In his meeting with president Ayub Khan, Sheikh Abdullah suggested formation of confederation of India and Pakistan, which was politely rejected by the former. Nehru died on 27th May, and Sheikh Abdullah stated in his memoirs that they were very close to resolve the Kashmir issue. “Unfortunately history is merciless and death snatched from him (Nehru) the chance to make amends for what he had done”, observed Sheikh Abdullah.

Historians and authors have also referred to the meeting between Sheikh Abdullah and president Ayub Khan, and quoted former having said that they were close to finding a solution to the Kashmir dispute that Nehru died, and so did the initiative to resolve the dispute between the two countries. Earlier, Jawaharlal Nehru had declared on the floor of assembly that India would honour the United Nations Security Council resolutions on Kashmir. Anyhow, many a time, ideas were floated by leaders of SAARC countries for the formation of South Asian Economic Union. In the 11th SAARC Summit declaration there was proposal for the creation of a South Asian Economic Union on the pattern of European Economic Union, it was an admission that the countries were not oblivious of the challenge posed by the changed realities vis-à-vis the WTO. But first of all the countries of the region would have to resolve the disputes; and there could be no progress unless the major irritants were removed. We have an exemplar in the European Union, as Europe was increasingly a continent of diverse people, races, religious factions, united by ideas and ideals. Despite all that, formation of the European Union by no means was an easy task.

It has to be said that at the time of formation of the EU all the disputes had been resolved. And after the end of the Cold War, some of the East European countries became members of the EU. The credit, of course, goes to the joint vision of the then French President Charles De Gaulle and German Chancellor Conrad Edenauer, which united the European nations that had fought decade-long wars, at least one 100-year war, and two World Wars causing death and destruction unparalleled in the known history. It, however, took 50 years to reach that stage; still at least four countries from the original 15-member European Union have not accepted the single currency. Since 1985, the seven nations of South Asia have been a part of the South Asian Association of Regional Co-operation (SAARC), a relative newcomer among regional groupings, which has proved a slow starter. Despite a preferential trade among the seven members, it accounts for less than 6 per cent of the total trade. And the reason is again Kashmir dispute which has stymied the progress in mutual trade between India and Pakistan.

As a matter of fact, all members are weary of India’s hegemonic ambitions. Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh do not feel comfortable with India’s style of conducting diplomatic and commercial affairs. Pakistan had always suspected that India would use commerce as a way to undermine Pakistan’s fidelity to Kashmir. The problem is that India’s avidity to achieve the big power status clouds the prospects of unity amongst the South Asian nations. Therefore, India has to give practical demonstration to dispel that impression, and Kashmir dispute should be resolved to the satisfaction of all the stakeholders: India, Pakistan and the people of Kashmir. After the end of the Cold War, when the US and the West have changed their priorities, and even attitude towards their allies, it is time that developing countries also review their own priorities and goals in the drastically changed international landscape. India should understand that this century belongs to Asia, which is a threat to the US and Europe. Therefore, policy to contain China is predicated on the premise that Asia be the next theatre of third world war.

During the Cold War era, the US had always tried to win India on its side, but failed. Indian leadership has since the disintegration of the USSR been responding favourably to the overtures by the US for making India a strategic partner. Meanwhile, the US and India have concluded nuclear agreement, whereby US will share advanced cutting-edge technology with India. It has helped India enter the Nuclear Club, and also lobbying for a permanent seat at the Security Council for India. As a matter of fact, there are two commonalities between the US and India. The former is a sole super power and India aspires to be one, and secondly both fear the unstoppable rise of China as a super power. But winds of change in the sub-continent had swept the region in May 1998 when Pakistan detonated six nuclear devices in response to five detonated by India. Pakistan is indeed a nuclear state, and now Asia has three nuclear states. And any war between the nuclear states could be disastrous not only for the region but beyond. One can hope that India will review its policies, and resolve the Kashmir dispute so that people of India and Pakistan, rather the whole region could live without fear.


Raymond Davis Update: Victims Were Spies, Second House Junket and Widow Suicide

When we last looked in on the ongoing saga of Raymond Davis in Pakistan, we saw that Congressman Darrell Issa was there, meeting with the President and the Prime Minister, arguing for release of Davis after he shot dead two Pakistanis on the streets of Lahore, with a third Pakistani killed by a US consular vehicle rushing to the scene in the aftermath of the shootings. Now, despite earlier US claims that Davis’ victims were thieves trying to hold him up at gunpoint, a report has surfaced in the Pakistani press that Davis’ victims were actually intelligence operatives for Pakistan’s government and that they had found Davis’ actions to be “detrimental to our national security.” In further developments, a second Congressional delegation met with Prime Minister Gilani, threatening US military funding to Pakistan if Davis is not released quickly and the widow of one of the victims has committed suicide because she believed that Davis would be released without being tried in Pakistan.

The revelation that Davis’ victims were intelligence operatives (h/t Emptywheel via email) comes from Pakistan’s Express Tribune, which is published in cooperation with the International Herald Tribune:

“Yes, they belonged to the security establishment….they found the activities of the American official detrimental to our national security,” disclosed a security official.


The official confirmed that the president, the prime minister and the chief of army staff (COAS) had discussed the issue in a meeting last week. The three thought it was advisable to resist the US pressure on the Raymond Davis issue and believed the detained American national should not be released at this stage, he said.

The article goes on to provide further context for Pakistan’s frustration with the US:

He said the government’s tough stance on the controversy was also its reaction to the attempts by certain elements in Washington to implicate the country’s top spy agency, the ISI, in the November 2008 Mumbai attacks.

The article does go on to suggest, however, that Davis could be released later, especially if the US provides assurance similar incidents would be avoided in the future and that Davis would face prosecution in the US.

Following on the heels of last Tuesday’s Congressional delegation led by Darrell Issa lobbying for Davis’ release, we learn that only three days later, a new delegation met with Prime Minister Gilani on Friday. From the US Embassy in Pakistan:

In a meeting today [February 4] with Prime Minister Gilani, a bipartisan U.S. Congressional delegation protested the continued illegal detention of the American diplomat in Lahore. U.S. Representatives Buck McKeon (Republican, California), John Kline (Republican, Minnesota), and Silvestre Reyes (Democrat, Texas) called on the Government of Pakistan to abide by its obligation under international and Pakistani law to recognize his diplomatic immunity, and immediately release him.

Dawn provides details from a source claiming to have been at the meeting:

The House Armed Services Committee delegation took the toughest line in its meeting with Prime Minister Gilani on Friday, where it was reportedly communicated to Pakistani leadership that it might be difficult for the committee to approve military aid and arms supply as long as its official remained in detention.

This same article has very interesting details coming from further investigation into Davis. After stating that at the time of his arrest, Davis was carrying an ID card stating that he worked for the US Consulate in Pershawar, the article suggests that Davis had documentation for working simultaneously at three different locations. It continues:

Some of the other information shared with by the investigators confirmed the previously known information that he had a military background and was posted with US Regional Affairs Office, which is linked by many analysts to CIA.

A US Department of Veteran Affairs card and Department of Defence contractor card were also in possession of Davis, which only adds to the confusion over his identity. The contract documents in Davis` possession revealed that he was on an annual contract with a fee of $200,000.

Having multiple sets of identification documents would seem to provide further evidence for Davis being an intelligence operative, although having them together in one place comes off as very amateurish tradecraft, in my opinion. With hints of both CIA and Blackwater-like postings, it seems unlikely we will ever know for sure what Davis’ official function was at the time of the shooting. Especially with the Defense Department contractor status, I wonder if that would place him in the category of people whom Buck McKeon is arguing should remain in Pakistan in the video above, where he argues against a Dennis Kuchinich resolution for withdrawing DoD personnel from Pakistan.

Further, the article goes on to note that Davis was missing from an official list of embassy employees given to Pakistan’s Foregin Office just two days before the shooting and that his name was included on a revised list submitted just one day after the incident. It is this revised list, submitted after the shooting, on which the US government appears to be basing its claim for diplomatic immunity for Davis. Presumably, the US will argue that Davis was left off the earlier list due to the sensitive nature of his posting, but I haven’t seen that argument made overtly yet.

In additional news on the Davis case, the widow of one of Davis’ victims has committed suicide:

The widow of a Pakistani man who was killed by a US official has killed herself by taking poison.

In her dying statement, Shumaila said she feared the American would be released without trial, police and doctors said.

She issued a deathbed statement on how she felt Davis’ case should be handled:

AP reported that Shumaila also spoke to reporters after arriving at the hospital, saying: “I want blood for blood.”

“The way my husband was shot, his killer should be shot in the same fashion,” she said.

This case is receiving much more attention in Pakistan than it is getting in the US, with Shumaila Faheem’s suicide highlighting just how important it is. Many Pakistanis are suggesting that if Davis is to be released, it should be in a trade for Aafia Siddiqui. Also, with the entry of US charges of ISI complicity in the Mumbai bombings into these discussions, the stakes of the overall situation seem to be rising on a daily basis. The intensity of US actions in trying to obtain Davis’ release would argue for him being very highly placed in the US intelligence community, but his amateurish collection of conflicting identification documents in his possession at the time of the shooting would argue for him being at a much lower and less professional level. As in most real world spy stories, the multiple, conflicting sets of information here and the practice of governments lying when it comes to intelligence activities means that we are unlikely to ever have a complete and truthful description of what has happened coming from either government involved in this case.