Current Affairs

Pakistan treats US as a 'limitless ATM': Raymond Davis

Raymond Davis, in his book, wrote that most of the US aid ended up with the Pakistan military and not with the civilians. Davis was arrested in Lahore in 2011 on charges of killing two Pakistani citizens, which kicked off a huge diplomatic crisis between the two countries. He was later released on payment of $2.4 million to the relatives of the killed - this is an Islamic custom of paying ‘blood money’ and get forgiveness from the family..  

A sensational, though not surprising, report that Pakistan treats America like a "limitless ATM" and most of the US aid to the country goes to the military's kitty, has come out from a private US defense contractor, Raymond Davis, who had sparked a big diplomatic crisis between the US government and Pakistan and was responsible for one the worst bilateral tensions. 

Raymond has categorically asserted that “For Pakistan, no amount of money ever seemed to be enough. The economic aid it received from the United States became a drug it alternately loathed and could not live without. He wrote in his book "The Contractor".

Davis, 42, was arrested in Lahore in 2011 on charges of killing two Pakistani citizens and thus kicked off a huge diplomatic crisis between the two countries.

Having a first-hand experience of how the system works in Pakistan, the CIA contractor wrote that most of the US aid ended up with the Pakistan military and not with the civilians. "As dysfunctional as the relationship between the United States and Pakistan was, it was made worse by the fact that most of the aid typically ended up in the hands of the Pakistani military, while much of its population continued to languish in poverty," Davis said.

In a PTI story about the book, Davis writes that the real power in Pakistan lies with the military. “While Pakistan is said to be a parliamentary federal republic with a President who serves as Head of State and a Prime Minister who runs the government, everyone knows that the real power in that country lies with the military."

"For more than half of the sixty-four years that had passed since its birth as a nation, Pakistan had been under military rule. It devoted nearly a quarter of its budget to defense spending. As recently as 2007, Pakistan had been under martial law. That same year, President Pervez Musharraf, a former four-star  General, suspended the constitution, had the leader of the opposition party arrested, and dismissed the Supreme Courts Chief Justice. In short, you did not want to cross the military in Pakistan."

“Between 1954 and 1959, the US gave Pakistan $1.28 billion. But by 2011, the total amount of aid doled out by the United States had ballooned to $67 billion," he wrote in his book. After 9/11, the US, using Coalition Support Funds, also reimbursed Pakistan for any money it spent combating terrorism, a policy that was somewhat flawed because, while it was supposed to encourage the Pakistani military to fight local militants, it provided little incentive for it to do the job well," Davis rued. 

"After all, if all the terrorists disappeared, so too would the seemingly limitless ATM that was the United States," Raymond said in the book which gives graphic details of his arrest in Lahore and his subsequent release.

"Having grown dependent upon these annual disbursements of aid from the US and with fewer than two million of its 182 million citizens paying income tax, Pakistan had become the very definition of a "rentier state," a country that receives a disproportionate amount of its revenues from external sources, kind of like the ne'er-do-well child of fabulously wealthy parents," Davis said. 

Top Comment

No wonder one of the top comments on the story in The Times of India came from a reader, Maharaj Gupta, who wrote: “Essentially Pakistan is like a prostitute, loyal to none but will sleep with anyone who gave it money.

According to Wikipedia:

Raymond Allen Davis is a former United States Army soldier, private security firm employee, and contractor with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). 

On January 27, 2011, Davis killed two reportedly armed men in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan. Although the U.S. government contended that he was protected by diplomatic immunity because of his employment with the U.S. Consulate in Lahore, Davis was jailed and criminally charged by Pakistani authorities with double murder and the illegal possession of a firearm. 

A car coming to aid Davis killed a third Pakistani man, Ibadur Rahman, in a "hit and run" while speeding on the wrong side of the road. 

The incident led to widespread protests in Pakistan demanding action against Davis. [There were very high level US government involvement in getting Davis released; a couple of Pakistani big-wigs were also in the diplomatic drama that resulted in their ouster from the government. The Police, politicians and the Pakistani ISI and military officers all had their roles.] 

Almost a month after the incident, U.S. officials revealed Davis was a contractor for the CIA after it was reported in The Guardian. According to The Telegraph, he was acting CIA Station Chief in Pakistan.

On March 16, 2011, Davis was released after the families of the two dead men were paid $2.4 million in diyya (blood money). Judges then acquitted him on all charges. [The American officials in Pakistan immediately whisked him away to the US via their Kabul airbase before any other agitation or development took place.]