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Pakistan: Blood Money Sets Raymond Davis Free

Categories: North America, South Asia, Pakistan, U.S.A., Governance, International Relations, Law, Protest

On January 27 [1], in broad day light, an American security official, Raymond Davis [2] opened fire at two alleged robbers. In the aftermath of the shootout people in the immediate vicinity arrested him and in an effort to rescue this operative from the street, a car reportedly sped down the wrong side of the road and killed a third Pakistani man.

Over the next few weeks a huge diplomatic uproar ensued, with the US State Department alleging him to be a diplomatic official and under the Vienna Convention strongly urged the Government of Pakistan to set him free. On a local level the public was enraged and proceeded to resist his release. Finally on 16 March at a hurried trial in the compounds of the Kot Lakhpath Jail, Raymond Davis was charged for two counts of murder. Immediately the lawyers produced the family members of the two victims whom Raymond Davis murdered, who told the presiding judge that they had been offered blood money [Diyat [3] – is compensation paid to the heirs of a victim the word means both blood money and ransom] and had subsequently pardoned Raymond for the murder.

The judge immediately set Raymond free, and the American Embassy is said to have immediately flown him out of Pakistan aboard a private jet to Afghanistan for debriefing.


After the release order of Raymond Davis protests were held in Hyderabad, Pakistan. Image by Rajput Yasir. Copyright Demotix.

Farhan at Guppu [5] writes:

Pakistani court indicted Davis in the double murder and denied statements by his lawyer that they did not trust the investigation process. Money was later paid to the families of the victims to receive a pardon.

Kalsoom at CHUP [6] reports:

According to the lawyers of the families, they were “forcibly taken to Kot Lakhpat Jail by unidentified men and made to sign papers pardoning Davis.”

Punjab Law minister Rana Sanaullah told private television, “The family members of the slain men appeared in the court and independently verified they had pardoned [Davis].” And, while sources vary slightly on the blood money amount, (ABC News reported that $700,000 was paid to each family, totaling around $1.4 million, while  Dawn reported the amount was $2.35 million),

Hence the court proceedings were shrouded in a mystery fueling the conspiracy grapevine, Cafe Pyala outlines the payouts [7]:

Here's the main prayer to the court setting out that the persons named have no objection to ‘Raymond Davis’ being acquitted by the court since they had accepted compensation and reached agreement to settle the matter.

The operative part in each is the share of the blood money received, divided according to shari'ah rules. The following is the detail of the diyat received by Faizan Haider's family:

  • Faizan Haider's Mother: Rs. 33,333,333/-
  • Faizan Haider's Wife: Rs.25,000,000/-
  • Faizan Haider's Brother No.1: Rs. 7,575,758/-
  • Faizan Haider's Brother No.2: Rs. 7,575,758/-
  • Faizan Haider's Brother No.3: Rs. 7,575,758/-
  • Faizan Haider's Sister No.1: Rs. 3,787,879/-
  • Faizan Haider's Sister No.2: Rs. 3,787,879/-
  • Faizan Haider's Sister No.3: Rs. 3,787,879/-
  • Faizan Haider's Sister No. 4: Rs. 3,787,879/-
  • Faizan Haider's Sister No. 5: Rs. 3,787,879/-

Total Diyat paid to Faizan Haider's relatives: Rs.100,000,002/- which translates into US$1,166,744/- at the current rate of exchange.

The relatives of the second man killed, Mohammad Faheem, received similar compensation.

The mystery as to who eventually paid the blood money fell into confusion when the US State Department categorically denied having any involvement with the issue. Pakistaniat [8] comments to suggest that it might have been the Saudi government:

whether the US paid it directly or had some fixer of choice – maybe the Saudis (although they deny it) – to pony up the cash it was an arcane and less than endearing provision in Sharia Law that saved this CIA agent’s skin.

Immediately after the incident I, at Teeth Maestro [9] shared that crying over Raymond Davis was like crying over spilt milk. Pressure instead must be mounted on the politicians who orchestrated this hurried case letting go of a murder without charging him for espionage or even attempting to take him to task for the possession of a weapon:

Locally I believe now we cant do much to argue about Raymond Davis, he has skipped out and at best is absolved of his murder, but what Pakistanis must exert tremendous pressure on the government to hold them accountable including the Govt of Punjab. Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif to suddenly skip off to London claiming health reasons is a definite ploy to avoid getting mixed up in Lahore, all these lunatic politicians who are selling this country off need to be thrown into the gallows, they all are unfit to rule this country now or ever.

Kalsoom passionately concludes:

Was this case shady? Of course. I have no doubt that there was some back-end wheeling and dealing by both U.S. and Pakistani officials to reach this conclusion. It was in the interest of the Pakistani government to not be seen as cow-towing to U.S. pressures to release Davis under diplomatic immunity. It was in the interest of the U.S. government to get Raymond Davis out, whatever the financial and diplomatic costs. So they both got their wish, didn’t they? Davis was indicted for murder charges yesterday, and he was swiftly released today after paying off the families of the men he killed in cold blood. But this was not justice, and really, it didn't fool anyone.

There is a huge uproar in Pakistan as to how a murderer can snick free exploiting a loophole in Pakistan's Shariah law, exploited by Americans who are fundamentally against this law. The political ramifications will go deep. All major Pakistani leaders are not commenting publicly on the issue and instead issue statements that it was a court decision, thus turning a deaf ear to the total lack of transparency.