Against the backdrop of the arrest and humiliating treatment meted out to a senior Indian diplomat, a former Pakistani diplomat to the U.S. has cautioned the American law enforcers to be sensitive towards the global realities on how they treat foreign diplomats in the country.
“American diplomats are extended considerations over and beyond the law in most countries,” Husain Haqqani, the former Pakistani Ambassador to the United States said while commenting on Devyani Khobragade’s arrest in New York last week over alleged visa fraud.
“Almost every U.S. diplomatic facility abroad is surrounded by barriers often erected on public property that violate municipal ordinances. American diplomats are allowed to board flights and exit airports through different exits than other passengers. These facilities protect U.S. government representatives in an era of terrorist threats.
“American law enforcers need to be mindful of these global realities before setting off another storm while arresting a foreign diplomat or consular agent,” Mr. Haqqani wrote in The Daily Beast.
Mr. Haqqani was caught in the midst of a storm in the aftermath of killing of two Pakistani citizens by Raymond Davis, a Consular officer at the U.S. Consulate in Lahore.
“We treated the Raymond Davis affair as a matter affecting relations between Pakistan and the United States, and not merely as the crime it was.
“I was as outraged as anyone else over the fact that a hot-headed individual had killed two people in a crowded market without any identifiable threat to his life. But, Davis was entitled to due process of law and until all legal options were exhausted his treatment could affect U.S.-Pakistan relations,” he wrote.
“The U.S. prosecutor and marshals involved in arresting Ms. Khobragade and the State Department officials who signed off on her arrest, failed in being sensitive to the international dimension of an alleged domestic crime.
“Khobragade’s guilt or the nature of her immunity is a matter for a court to decide. Treating her courteously was necessary to ensure that American diplomats and consular representatives are protected and treated kindly abroad,” Mr. Haqqani said.
The U.S. claimed that Davis carried a diplomatic passport and, therefore, enjoyed diplomatic immunity, he said.
“Pakistan’s Foreign Office found that Davis’ name had been included on the list of diplomats serving in Pakistan only after he had committed the murders, which did not extend him immunity under the Vienna Convention,” he wrote.