ARMS AND THE MAN: THE POLITICAL HOMICIDE: It is certainly a burlesque to reasonable conscience, if one were to substantiate, by legal flamboyance or mere semantic exercise, the open homicide of two individuals in nitid daylight. Yet it rends one to often see such a phenomenon, albeit heinous, in play. And such is the comedy of democratic life that the more one strives to downplay; the more it is that you hear the cacophony play – at least, in our homeland. The bruised sky which pervaded the twenty-sixth day of January, a day which marked the genesis of the Davis’ affair so-called was not a symphony, to say the least. A 36-year old American from the mounts of southwest Virginia shoots dead two civilians and whilst attempting to escape the woe to betide him engenders involuntary manslaughter on an unbiased pedestrian. Amid the wrecks he manages to absquatulate, is later caught and henceforth the political soliloquy begins. ToDavis, the officer-in-charge overwhelmingly fails to pose the question “If you prick us, do we not bleed?” Not surprisingly,Davisasserts self-defence. It is a field-day for the media. It is food for the political activists and their myrmidons. It is curious thought for the iconoclasts.

To all, it is a batty to accept that this foreigner was much ado to nothing in a private rented vehicle in one of the busiest areas ofPakistan’s second largest city. More so, he carried ammunition — pistol cartridges, and not chocolates -unlike that Swiss mercenary soldier of the Serbian Army, Captain Bluntschli, if you like. And so the espionage became public. It became a grave cause of concern for the anxious citizen, otherwise entangled counting the rather hourly electricity shutdowns. Political agenda suddenly had a newfangled theme to it, and perhaps quite rightly so. The controversy and its resolution had both inter-territorial as well as trans-border ramifications to it; this everyone, at all material times, knew. It is not unnatural that the US-Government arose to their accused citizen’s help but found itself in a glaringly tight position. A conclusive statement fromWashingtonover the diplomatic status of their accused citizen, now charged with homicide of two individuals and the killing of an innocent pedestrian, certainly kept the domestic Courts ruminating for a while. Yet it was rather known to all that just as Blunstchli managed to escape,Davistoo would eventually be handed over to the US-Government. Subsequent events were portrayed, as is often the case, to the general public as having taken their own course, yet one is not ill-at-ease to understand how political influence, bargain and dominance, in the absence of a Denning or Atkin, besieged a rather ‘cold’ Kot Lakhpat Courtroom.

But perhaps it is not the Court that is to be scorned. Perhaps law is just politics wearing robes after all. Law that fails to uphold and deliver the sabre of justice holds no meaning. It is devoid of substance. More unfortunate, however, is the law that is misused to abridge due process, grant concessions to those with means and circumvent liability. TheDavisaffair reveals the haste in which the whole matter was dealt with and how certain extremely crucial issues were left unscathed. Under the Islamic law, diyat may be given to the heirs of the deceased but that does not preclude the Government, presumably as aggrieved, from prosecuting the convict; as committing murder is a crime against a person as well as the State. Even if the heirs pardonedDavisand forfeited their right of qisas, the State had the prerogative to continue the proceedings. But they did not. Or perhaps could not. And so, in the face of those numerous prisoners on death row waiting to be executed, but their plight forgotten, the Court in a perfunctory sense was astute to exonerateDavis. Factors of otherwise great import such as verification of the legal heirs allowing clemency, were, for a while conveniently forgotten. Possession of illegal weapons, dangerous and reckless driving causing death and the practice of committing the second oldest profession – espionage were taken off the statute book. What otherwise would have taken years, took only days. At least, one ought to give due credit to the domestic Court for expediting its judicial stomach this one time only. Yet a trial of historical significance that should have entailed multifaceted issues gave miscarriage to only one charge on the indictment and that too evaporated abruptly. To us, like many others, what happened came as no surprise.Davis’s largess, in accordance with the applicable law of our homeland did suffice to offset liability. And so he slipped the occasion, like one pursued. What political turmoil, anarchy or tribulation does one descry now? For just as the great poet of Nature mused in relation to the banishment of Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, our State is at ease to sing — ‘It boots thee not to be compassionate; After our sentence plaining comes too late’.

Hina Fayyaz Barrister Mian Belal Ahmad

The latter is the youngest to be called to the Bar atLincoln’s. He is the grandson of Late Mian Nisar Ahmad (May his soul rest in Peace), an Ex-Judge of the Lahore High Court, Lahore & a Senior Advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan, and now runs the civil set, Nisar Law Associates, 51 — Mozang Road, Lahore.