The Pakistani establishment does not act as clients to USA or other international powers as portrayed in Davis’s book. Unlike many other countries in the region, for example Afghanistan, the Pakistani establishment is smart enough to look after its own interests.
There has been a history of dealing with spies in the international relations. During war times, arrested spies were exchanged with mutual consent. There has been also a practice of killing these spies brutally. Mata Hari, a Dutch spy who worked for German cause during the First World War, was executed by firing squad. The recent case of Kulbushan Yadev and Raymond Davis are two peas of the same pod. They belong to different countries but their objective was same. Both were arrested by Pakistani government and convicted in the courts and given death sentences. Raymond Davis was released dramatically the details of which have been available in his recently published book The Contractor: How I landed in a Pakistani prison and ignited a diplomatic crisis. The story of 49 days from January 27, 2011 to March 16, 2011 has been narrated by him in a novel-type style. He has described how politicians and the Army manipulated things for his safe exit from Pakistan.
The role of General Pasha, the then ISI chief has been mentioned repeatedly that how he and his ISI had pressurized the family of murdered Faizan Haider and how the lawyer Asad Manzoor Butt was kept away from the last day proceedings. The story has two dimensions: one to defame Pakistani establishment as clients to USA which has been served to some extent because there is nothing new for people to buy. Secondly, it implies that how arrested spies increase the bargaining powers of weaker states against comparatively big powers.
The return of Raymond Davis was not that simple as it seems that Pakistan could not stand against the US pressure and handed over him to USA. It seems that the Pakistani establishment helped to build an anti US sentiment in public to increase its power to pressurize US to call back its other spies from Pakistan who were operating in guise of Black-Water agency. And the US did that.
Then things were smoothed for the release for Raymond Davis through an Islamic Court. The case should be studied by taking into consideration the then estranged relations between Pakistan and USA over future of Afghanistan end game. The US administration had started blaming Pakistan army openly for backing their favourite Taliban factions i.e. Haqqanis etc. and Pakistan was objecting over the presence of US spies on Pakistani soil.
The Raymond David case brought meetings between General Kyani and Admiral Mike Mullen and ISI Chief Shuja Pasha and CIA ex-Chief Leon Paneta.
The Kulbushan Yadev case looks similar. His detention by Pakistan has increased their bargaining power against India as it is a matter of shame for India if he is hanged in Pakistan. It will help Pakistan to pressurize India to back off her support in Baluchistan province and along with Pakistan’s north-western borders.
Against this backdrop, the Pakistani establishment is always successful in mobilizing public opinion through media or other tactics to build up pressure. These sentiments are betrayed afterwards when national interest is served to the establishment’s satisfaction. The continuity of such approach compels the Pakistani establishment to deal softly with internal extremist elements especially in religious parties that back fires sometimes. These elements are an asset for the government to use to build up pressure in international arena. The Pakistani establishment does not act as clients to USA or other international powers as portrayed in Davis’s book. Unlike many other countries in the region, for example Afghanistan, the Pakistani establishment is smart enough to look after its own interests.
This book review has been contributed by Jawad Kadir, Ph.D Student in International Relations, Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion, Lancaster University.