Monday, February 27, 2012

OSCAR FOR PAKISTAN

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy gets Pakistan its first Oscar

When Pakistani documentary-maker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy was nominated for the Oscars, the first and only from the country, she gave herself a fair one in five chance at winning. On Monday, she won for Pakistan its first Golden Boy for her 52-minute documentary Saving Face, co-directed by US-based Daniel Junge, in the short documentary category. The documentary traces the lives of of acid attack victims and a doctor who comes to Pakistan to treat them.

 Chinoy was born and raised in Karachi, received a bachelors degree from Smith College and completed two masters degree from Stanford University. In 2012,  she won an Emmy for her documentary Pakistan: Children of the Taliban. She has made 13 documentaries on conflict situations.

Previously her journalistic work has won her Broadcast Journalist of the Year award in the UK for The New Apartheid, a series of documentary films about xenophobia in South Africa. She has als0 won The Overseas Press Club Award, The American Women in Radio and Television Award, The Cine Golden Eagle award and the Banff Rockie Award.

Source : http://www.firstpost.com/bollywood/sharmeen-obaid-chinoys-got-pakistan-its-first-oscar-226157.html#.T0sfettec2I.facebook

India taken off WHO list of polio endemic countries

Feb 25, 2012 

Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad announced that India had been taken off a WHO list of polio endemic countries to a standing ovation.

Bravo India . . . . . !

http://www.firstpost.com/videos/india-taken-off-who-list-of-polio-endemic-countries-225233.html

Saturday, April 9, 2011

- ADDICTION to TECHNOLOGY -

Student 'addiction' to technology 'similar to drug cravings', study finds

 

Withdrawal symptoms experienced by young people deprived of gadgets and technology is compared to those felt by drug addicts or smokers going “cold turkey”, a study has concluded.


  7:30AM BST 08 Apr 2011

Researchers found nearly four in five students had significant mental and physical distress, panic, confusion and extreme isolation when forced to unplug from technology for an entire day.

They found college students at campuses across the globe admitted being “addicted” to modern technology such as mobile phones, laptops and television as well as social networking such as Facebook and Twitter.

A “clear majority" of almost 1,000 university students, interviewed at 12 campuses in 10 countries, including Britain, America and China, were unable to voluntarily avoid their gadgets for one full day, they concluded.

The University of Maryland research described students’ thoughts in vivid detail, in which they admit to cravings, anxiety attacks and depression when forced to abstain from using media.

One unnamed American college student told of their overwhelming cravings, which they confessed was similar to “itching like a crackhead (crack cocaine addict)”.

The study, published by the university’s International Centre for Media & the Public Agenda (ICMPA) and the Salzburg Academy on Media & Global Change, concluded that “most students… failed to go the full 24 hours without media”.

The research, titled The world Unplugged, also found students’ used “virtually the same words to describe their reactions”.

These included emotions such as fretful, confused, anxious, irritable, insecure, nervous, restless, crazy, addicted, panicked, jealous, angry, lonely, dependent, depressed, jittery and paranoid.

Prof Susan Moeller, who led the research, said technology had changed the students’ relationships.

"Students talked about how scary it was, how addicted they were,” she said.

"They expected the frustration. But they didn't expect to have the psychological effects, to be lonely, to be panicked, the anxiety, literally heart palpitations.

“Technology provides the social network for young people today and they have spent their entire lives being ‘plugged in’.”

The study interviewed young people, aged between 17 and 23, including about 150 students from Bournemouth University, who were asked to keep a diary of their thoughts.

They were told to give up their mobile phones, the internet, social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and they were not allowed to watch television.

They were, however, permitted to use landline telephones and read books.

The study found that one in five reported feelings of withdrawal akin to addiction while more than one in 10 admitted being left confused and feeling like a failure.

Just 21 per cent said they could feel the benefits of being unplugged.

One British participant reported: “I am an addict. I don’t need alcohol, cocaine or any other derailing form of social depravity... Media is my drug; without it I was lost.2
Another wrote: ‘I literally didn’t know what to do with myself. Going down to the kitchen to pointlessly look in the cupboards became regular routine, as did getting a drink.’

A third said: ‘I became bulimic with my media; I starved myself for a full 15 hours and then had a full-on binge.’

While a fourth student added: "I felt like a helpless man on a lonely deserted island in the big ocean”.

Prof Moeller added: “Some said they wanted to go without technology for a while but they could not as they could be ostracised by their friends.’

“When the students did not have their mobile phones and other gadgets, they did report that they did get into more in-depth conversations.

“Quite a number reported quite a difference in conversation in terms of quality and depth as a result.”


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hindu Terrorism against Muslims

Hindu terrorism charges force India to reflect on prejudices against Muslims

By Simon Denyer and Rama Lakshmi
Sunday, March 13, 2011; A10 




IN DEWAS, INDIA When a series of bomb attacks ripped through Muslim neighborhoods, mosques and shrines in India in recent years, suspicion fell firmly on a familiar culprit: Islamist terror. After each incident, scores of Indian Muslims were rounded up, and many were tortured. Confessions were extracted, the names of various militant "masterminds" leaked to the media and links with Pakistan widely alleged.

Never mind that most of the victims were Muslims; it seemed natural to many people, from New Delhi to Washington, to assume the attacks were the work of extremist Pakistani militants and their Indian Muslim sympathizers, intent on fanning religious tensions in India and disrupting the peace process between the nuclear-armed rivals.

But those investigations, and the assumptions behind them, were turned on their head early this year by the confession of a Hindu holy man. Swami Aseemanand told a magistrate that the bomb makers were neither Pakistani nor Muslim but Hindu radicals, bent on revenge for many earlier acts of terrorism across India that had been perpetrated by Muslims.

His statement, subsequently leaked to the media, alleged that a network of radicals stretched right up to senior levels of the country's Hindu nationalist right wing. It also exposed deep-seated prejudices within the police against the country's minority Muslim population.

Ironically, the charges may also have helped India and Pakistan to get back to the negotiating table last month after relations broke down in the wake of the 2008 attacks on Mumbai.

A string of attacks

Like many Indians, Aseemanand was furious with terrorist attacks in the country carried out by Muslims. "We should answer bombs with bombs," he told a small group of Hindu extremists in June 2006, only to discover a plot was already well under way.

In the ensuing 18 months, bombs were placed on bicycles in a Muslim cemetery in the western town of Malegaon, hidden under a granite slab in a mosque in Hyderabad and left in a tiffin lunchbox in an important Sufi shrine in Ajmer, all targets Aseemanand said he suggested.

In another attack, 68 people, most of them Pakistanis, were killed when suitcases packed with explosives were placed next to gasoline bottles on a train headed from western India to Pakistan. Many of the victims were unable to escape the inferno because of bars on the train windows, and their bodies were burned beyond recognition.

Evidence that radical Hindus, including an army colonel who is suspected of supplying the technical expertise and the explosives, were behind several of these bombings began to surface more than two years ago, and several people were arrested, including Aseemanand.

But his statement is the first clear evidence that Indian Hindu terrorists were to blame for the deaths of Pakistani Muslim travelers on the Samjhauta, or Friendship, Express.

Pakistan reacted to the news with ill-disguised glee, arguing that the botched investigations and the subsequent confession confirmed its suspicions that India "lacked the courage" to prosecute radical Hindus.
In India, there was sober reflection in some quarters about prejudices against Muslims. The Hindu right's old adage, that "while not every Muslim is a terrorist, every terrorist is a Muslim," could no longer be trotted out with a straight face.

India had been insisting it would not restart a formal peace process with Pakistan until that country properly investigated and prosecuted state-sponsored militants blamed for the attacks on Mumbai, which left 166 people dead.
Pakistan responded in kind, demanding a fuller and faster investigation into the train attack. India put on a brave face, but the revelations were an embarrassment, one official privately admitted, as Indian media judged that their government had lost some of the moral high ground.

The fallout

In a sense, though, the episode provided the political cover at home for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to agree this month to do what he secretly wanted and restart the peace process with Pakistan, said Commodore Uday Bhaskar of the National Maritime Foundation, a New Delhi think tank.

"Before, terrorism was projected in public opinion in black-and-white terms, that all terrorism was because of Muslims and because of Pakistan," he said. Aseemanand's confession "had an unintended positive kind of fallout and introduced a malleability into the India-Pakistan interaction."

More damaging were Aseemanand's accusations against high-ranking members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or RSS, a religious group that spreads its Hindu revivalist ideology, known as Hindutva, through a network of schools, charities and clubs.

The RSS, the ideological parent of the country's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, is also engaged in a sometimes violent contest with Christian missionary groups operating in India.

According to Aseemanand, the main organizer of the attacks was an RSS worker called Sunil Joshi, in his mid-30s, from the town of Dewas in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

Relatives describe Joshi as a conservative and deeply religious man of very few words, who spent most of his time in an ashram and visited the family only rarely. Nicknamed "monkey" by his older brother for his devotion to Lord Hanuman, Hinduism's mighty ape god, Joshi viewed Muslims as "worthless," his niece said.

Mysteriously, in late December 2007, after most of the bomb attacks had taken place, Joshi was gunned down in the street near his family home. Police think Joshi's gang turned on him, but some investigators and family members believe he was killed because he was about to turn himself in to the police.

RSS national executive member Indresh Kumar, who is suspected of mentoring and financing the bomb-making gang, said in an interview that the accusations against him represented a "deep political conspiracy" by the ruling Congress party to defame him and the RSS.

Certainly, some members of the secular Congress party have enjoyed and exploited the Hindu nationalist opposition's discomfort over the allegations. Rahul Gandhi, a leading member of Parliament and heir apparent to the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, even told the U.S. ambassador in 2009 that radicalized Hindu groups were a bigger threat to India than support for Lashkar-i-Taiba, a militant group that is accused in the Mumbai attacks, according to a cable released by WikiLeaks.

Gandhi was widely criticized for that assertion, but the RSS has found itself on the defensive. In a series of conversations with The Washington Post, the group's leaders portrayed the bomb makers as either paid agents of Pakistani military intelligence or simply as a violent splinter group of their peaceful movement.
Ajai Sahni, a terrorism expert who runs the Institute for Conflict Management in New Delhi, said the militants were just "the fringe of a fringe" within the Hindu right. But "the sympathies may be deeper within the core of Hindutva," he said.

Muslims still in jail

Meanwhile, nine Muslims have languished in jail for more than four years, accused of carrying out the Malegaon bombings, in which 37 people were killed. They have been subjected, their attorney says, to horrific torture, their families reduced to poverty. But they hope Aseemanand's confession will soon persuade a judge to release them on bail.

But Aseemanand's attorney now says his client's confession was obtained under duress and is not legally valid. In the confession, though, the holy man gave a different reason for wanting to come clean. In jail in Hyderabad, he apparently met a young Muslim named Kalim who was falsely accused of the bombing there and gradually warmed to him.

"I was very moved by Kaleem's good conduct," Aseemanand said. "My conscience asked me to do penance by making a confessional statement, so that the real culprits can be punished and no innocent has to suffer."

Source : http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/03/12/AR2011031204921_pf.html

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

CIA Agent - RAYMOND DAVIS CASE

This CIA agent is no diplomat


by Craig Murray

The US says Raymond Davis should have immunity in Pakistan. Just another attempt to flout the rule of law outside its borders

I tread with some caution in discussing the case of Raymond Davis, the CIA agent facing charges of double murder in Pakistan and the threat of the death penalty. I add my plea to the voices urging the Pakistani government to ensure Davis does not hang.

But one thing I can state for certain: Davis (as we will call him for now) is not a diplomat and does not possess diplomatic immunity. There is some doubt as to who he really is, with the charges against him in Pakistan including one that he obtained documents using a false identity.
Watching Barack Obama's presidency has been a stream of bitter disappointments. Hisendorsement of Davis as "our diplomat" and invocation of the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations was, in its sheer dishonesty, as sad an Obama moment as any.

As a general rule, international treaties are written in very plain language and are very accessible. That is certainly true of the Vienna convention. Unfortunately I can see scant evidence that any journalists have bothered to read it.

Leaving aside staff of international organisations recognised by the host country as having diplomatic status (and there has been no claim yet that Davis was actually working for Unicef), in bilateral diplomatic relations the provision for diplomatic immunity is tightly limited to a very small number of people. That makes sense when you consider that if Davis did have diplomatic immunity, he would indeed be able to avoid detention and trial on a murder charge. The world community is not going to make that impunity readily available.
Full diplomatic immunity is enjoyed only by "diplomatic agents". Those are defined at article 1 (e) of the Vienna convention as "the head of the mission or a member of the diplomatic staff of the mission". Helpfully the diplomatic staff are further defined in the preceding article as "having diplomatic rank". Those ranks are an ascending series of concrete titles from third secretary through to ambassador or high commissioner. Davis did not have a diplomatic rank.
But there is a second category of "administrative and technical staff" of a mission. They enjoy a limited diplomatic immunity which, however, specifically excludes "acts performed outside the course of their duties". (Vienna convention article 37/2.) Frantic off-the-record briefing by the state department reflected widely in the media indicates that the US case is that Davis was a member of technical staff covered by this provision.
But in that case the US has to explain in the course of precisely which diplomatic duties Davis needed to carry a Glock handgun, a headband-mounted flashlight and a pocket telescope. The Vienna convention lists the legitimate duties of an embassy, and none of them need that kind of equipment.
It appears in any event unlikely that Davis ever was a member of the technical staff of the embassy or consulate. Under article 10 of the Vienna convention the host authorities must be formally informed – by diplomatic note – of the arrival and departures of such staff, and as embassies under article 11 are subject to agreed numerical limits, that in practice occurs when another member of staff is leaving. If this was not done Davis was not covered even in the course of his duties.
Pakistani senior ex-military sources tell me there is no note appointing Davis as embassy or consulate staff, and that appears to pass a commonsense test – if the note exists, why have the Americans not produced it?
Finally, possession of a diplomatic passport does not give you diplomatic status all over the world.
I hope this helps clarify a position that the US government, and the media it influences, have deliberately muddied. Sadly this whole episode reflects the US's continuing contempt for the basic fabric of international law. It sits with its refusal to sign up to the international criminal court so that US citizens may not be held accountable for war crimes, with its acknowledged overseas assassination programme, its one-sided extradition treaties and claims of extra-territorial jurisdiction over offences committed outside the US.
We hoped it might get better under Obama. It is not.
"We've got a very simple principle here that every country in the world that is party to the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations has upheld in the past and should uphold in the future, and that is, if our diplomats are in another country, then they are not subject to that country's local prosecution," Obama said in a press conference. "We expect Pakistan, that's a signatory and recognises Davis as a diplomat, to abide by the same convention ... I'm not going to discuss the specific exchanges that we've had [with the Pakistani government], but we've been very firm about this being a priority."
·                                 guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2011

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Snow-Capped Lahore 26-02-11

Snow-Covered Lahore

I had just returned home with family when it started raining and just a few minutes later we heard that there has been heavy rain and hailing in parts of the city.  What I missed, to regret forever in the rest of life, was captured by others.

Here are some photos and a video clip of the snowy-makeover of my Lahore by mother nature on the evening of Saturday the 26th of February, 2011.

All photo credits to my son Abdullah's friend Umar.
























Friday, February 25, 2011

Raymond Davis Case - The NYT's journalistic obedience

MONDAY, FEB 21, 2011 13:22 ET

(updated below - Update II - Update III [Tues.] - Update IV [Tues.])
Earlier today, I wrote in detail about new developments in the case of Raymond Davis, the former Special Forces soldier who shot and killed two Pakistanis on January 27, sparking a diplomatic conflict between the U.S. (which is demanding that he be released on the ground of "diplomatic immunity") and Pakistan (whose population is demanding justice and insisting that he was no "diplomat").  But I want to flag this new story separately because it's really quite amazing and revealing.
Yesterday, as I noted earlier, The Guardian reported that Davis -- despite Obama's description of him as "our diplomat in Pakistan" -- actually works for the CIA, and further noted that Pakistani officials believe he worked with Blackwater.  When reporting that, The Guardiannoted that many American media outlets had learned of this fact but deliberately concealed it -- because the U.S. Government told them to:  "A number of US media outlets learned about Davis's CIA role but have kept it under wraps at the request of the Obama administration." 


Now it turns out that The New York Times -- by its own shameless admission -- was one of those self-censoring, obedient media outlets.  Now that The Guardian published its story last night, the NYT just now published a lengthy article detailing Davis' work -- headlined:  "American Held in Pakistan Shootings Worked With the C.I.A." -- and provides a few more details:
The American arrested in Pakistan after shooting two men at a crowded traffic stop was part of a covert, C.I.A.-led team of operatives conducting surveillance on militant groups deep inside the country, according to American government officials. . . . Mr. Davis has worked for years as a C.I.A. contractor, including time at Blackwater Worldwide, the controversial private security firm (now called Xe) that Pakistanis have long viewed as symbolizing a culture of American gun slinging overseas.
But what's most significant is the paper's explanation for why they're sharing this information with their readers only now:
The New York Times had agreed to temporarily withhold information about Mr. Davis’s ties to the agency at the request of the Obama administration, which argued that disclosure of his specific job would put his life at risk. Several foreign news organizations have disclosed some aspects of Mr. Davis's work with the C.I.A.. On Monday, American officials lifted their request to withhold publication, though George Little, a C.I.A. spokesman, declined any further comment.
In other words, the NYT knew about Davis' work for the CIA (and Blackwater) but concealed it because the U.S. Government told it to.  Now that The Guardian and other foreign papers reported it, the U.S. Government gave permission to the NYT to report this, so now that they have government license, they do so -- only after it's already been reported by other newspapers which don't take orders from the U.S. Government.
It's one thing for a newspaper to withhold information because they believe its disclosure would endanger lives.  But here, the U.S. Government has spent weeks making public statements that were misleading in the extreme -- Obama's calling Davis "our diplomat in Pakistan" -- while the NYT deliberately concealed facts undermining those government claims because government officials told them to do so.  That's called being an active enabler of government propaganda.  While working for the CIA doesn't preclude holding "diplomatic immunity," it's certainly relevant to the dispute between the two countries and the picture being painted by Obama officials.  Moreover, since there is no declared war in Pakistan, this incident -- as the NYT puts it today -- "inadvertently pulled back the curtain on a web of covert American operations inside Pakistan, part of a secret war run by the C.I.A. "  That alone makes Davis' work not just newsworthy, but crucial.
Worse still, the NYT has repeatedly disseminated U.S. Government claims -- and even offered its own misleading descriptions --without bothering to include these highly relevant facts.  See, for instance, its February 12 report ("The State Department has repeatedly said that he is protected by diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention and must be released immediately"); this February 8 article (referring to "the mystery about what Mr. Davis was doing with this inventory of gadgets"; noting "the Pakistani press, dwelling on the items in Mr. Davis’s possession and his various identity cards, has been filled with speculation about his specific duties, which American officials would not discuss"; and claiming:  "Mr. Davis's jobs have been loosely defined by American officials as 'security' or 'technical,' though his duties were known only to his immediate superiors"); andthis February 15 report (passing on the demands of Obama and Sen. John Kerry for Davis' release as a "diplomat" without mentioning his CIA work).  They're inserting into their stories misleading government claims, and condescendingly summarizing Pakistani "speculation" about Davis' work, all while knowing the truth but not reporting it.

Following the dictates of the U.S. Government for what they can and cannot publish is, of course, anything but new for the New York Times.  In his lengthy recent article on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, NYTExecutive Editor Bill Keller tried to show how independent his newspaper is by boasting that they published their story of the Bush NSA program even though he has "vivid memories of sitting in the Oval Office as President George W. Bush tried to persuade [him] and the paper's publisher to withhold the eavesdropping story"; Keller neglected to mention that the paper learned about the illegal program in mid-2004, but followed Bush's orders to conceal it from the public for over a year -- until after Bush was safely re-elected
And recently in a BBC interview, Keller boasted that -- unlike WikiLeaks -- the Paper of Record had earned the praise of the U.S. Government for withholding materials which the Obama administration wanted withheld, causing Keller's fellow guest -- former British Ambassador to the U.N. Carne Ross -- to exclaim: "It's extraordinary that the New York Times is clearing what it says about this with the U.S. Government."  The BBC host could also barely hide his shock and contempt at Keller's proud admission:  
HOST (incredulously): Just to be clear, Bill Keller, are you saying that you sort of go to the Government in advance and say: "What about this, that and the other, is it all right to do this and all right to do that," and you get clearance, then?
Obviously, that's exactly what The New York Times does.  Allowing the U.S. Government to run around affirmatively depicting Davis as some sort of Holbrooke-like "diplomat" -- all while the paper uncritically prints those claims and yet conceals highly relevant information about Davis because the Obama administration told it to -- would be humiliating for any outlet devoted to adversarial journalism to have to admit.  But it will have no such effect on The New York Times With some noble exceptions, loyally serving government dictates is, like so many American establishment media outlets, what they do; it's their function:  hence the name "establishment media."
 UPDATE:  From a few people in comments (and via email), there are several objections/dissents to some of the arguments here.   My responses to them are here.
 UPDATE II:  At his news conference last week, this is what President Obama said about the Davis situation:
With respect to Mr. Davis, our diplomat in Pakistan, we've got a very simple principle here that every country in the world that is party to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations has upheld in the past and should uphold in the future. And that is if -- if our diplomats are in another country, then they are not subject to that country's local prosecution.
This is how the New York Times characterized that statement:  "Without describing Mr. Davis’s mission or intelligence affiliation, President Obama last week made a public plea for his release."
It's one thing for a newspaper to withhold information because it genuinely believes its publication will endanger lives (and I'd love to hear the explanation about why this would).  But this situation goes far beyond that.  The NYT was regularly printing government claims like the one above ("our diplomat in Pakistan") which were at best misleading and likely false, and also including their own misleading claims in these stories ("the mystery about what Mr. Davis was doing with this inventory of gadgets").  But they had information in their possession -- and concealed it -- which undermined (if not entirely negated) the truth of these statements.  
There's a big difference between simply withholding information to protect lives and actively enabling and publishing misleading propaganda.  More to the point, there is simply no justification -- none -- for a newspaper to allow government officials to run around misleading the public, and to print those misleading statements, all while concealing information (at the Government's request) which reveal those claims to be factually dubious.
UPDATE III:  About my argument here, NYU Journalism Professor Jay Rosen writes:
Rosen has repeatedly made the insightful point that one of WikiLeaks' most unique attributes is that it is one of the world's only "stateless" news organizations: meaning it has no nationalistic allegiance to (or physical location in) any particular nation and thus is not subject to (or constrained by) the laws, dictates, or agendas of any government.  That "stateless" attribute precludes its concealing newsworthy information in order to accommodate governments to which it is loyal.  Relatedly, Rosen -- when explaining why WikiLeaks came to exist -- recently said this: "The watchdog press died, and what we have is WikiLeaks instead."  This latest episode nicely illustrates the truth of both of those observations, and underscores why the WikiLeaks model is such a vital antidote to the endlessly cooperative government/media consortium.
UPDATE IV:  For Yahoo News!, Michael Calderone examines this controversy, notes that Obama officials made the same arguments toThe Guardian about why Davis' CIA connection should be concealed, and includes this explanation from Guardian editors as to why they nonetheless reported it:
[Guardian Deputy Editor Ian] Katz noted that two senior Pakistan government sources officially confirmed that Davis was a CIA operative and explained in an email why it was relevant to report.
"We believe Davis's role in Pakistan is unavoidably connected with both the legal case surrounding him and with the U.S. government's attempts to seek his release," Katz said. "And since Davis is already widely assumed in Pakistan to have links to U.S. intelligence, we did not accept that disclosing his CIA role would expose him to increased risk."
Calderone also quotes AP executives as acknowledging that they "found out Davis was working for the CIA 'immediately after the shootings'" yet nonetheless concealed that from their readership even as Obama officials ran around making misleading statements about Davis' work (statements which AP dutifully reported).  Whatever that behavior is, it isn't journalism.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Raymond Davis Case

February 21, 2011

American Held in Pakistan Shootings Worked With the C.I.A.

By MARK MAZZETTI, ASHLEY PARKER, JANE PERLEZ and ERIC SCHMITT

WASHINGTON — The American arrested in Pakistan after shooting two men at a crowded traffic stop was part of a covert, C.I.A.-led team of operatives conducting surveillance on militant groups deep inside the country, according to American government officials.
Working from a safe house in the eastern city of Lahore, the detained American contractor, Raymond A. Davis, a retired Special Forces soldier, carried out scouting and other reconnaissance missions as a security officer for a Central Intelligence Agency task force of case officers and technical surveillance experts, the officials said.
Mr. Davis’s arrest and detention, which came after what American officials have described as a botched robbery attempt, has inadvertently pulled back the curtain on a web of covert American operations inside Pakistan, part of a secret war run by the C.I.A. It has exacerbated already frayed relations between the American intelligence agency and its Pakistani counterpart, created a political dilemma for the weak, pro-American Pakistani government, and further threatened the stability of the country, which has the world’s fastest growing nuclear arsenal.
Without describing Mr. Davis’s mission or intelligence affiliation, President Obama last week made a public plea for his release. Meanwhile, there have been a flurry of private phone calls to Pakistan from Leon E. Panetta, the C.I.A. director, and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of theJoint Chiefs of Staff, all intended to persuade the Pakistanis to release the secret operative. Mr. Davis has worked for years as a C.I.A. contractor, including time at Blackwater Worldwide, the controversial private security firm (now called Xe) that Pakistanis have long viewed as symbolizing a culture of American gun slinging overseas.
The New York Times had agreed to temporarily withhold information about Mr. Davis’s ties to the agency at the request of the Obama administration, which argued that disclosure of his specific job would put his life at risk. Several foreign news organizations have disclosed some aspects of Mr. Davis’s work with the C.I.A.. On Monday, American officials lifted their request to withhold publication, though George Little, a C.I.A. spokesman, declined any further comment.
Since the United States is not at war in Pakistan, the American military is largely restricted from operating in the country. So the Central Intelligence Agency has taken on an expanded role, operating armed drones that kill militants inside the country and running covert operations, sometimes without the knowledge of the Pakistanis.
Several American and Pakistani officials said that the C.I.A. team in Lahore with which Mr. Davis worked was tasked with tracking the movements of various Pakistani militant groups, including Lashkar-e-Taiba, a particularly violent group that Pakistan uses as a proxy force against India but that the United States considers a threat to allied troops in Afghanistan. For the Pakistanis, such spying inside their country is an extremely delicate issue, particularly since Lashkar has longstanding ties to Pakistan’s intelligence service, the Directorate forInter-Services Intelligence, or ISI.
Still, American and Pakistani officials use Lahore as a base of operations to investigate the militant groups and their madrasas in the surrounding area.
The officials gave various accounts of the makeup of the covert task force and of Mr. Davis, who at the time of his arrest was carrying a Glock pistol, a long-range wireless set, a small telescope and a headlamp. An American and a Pakistani official said in interviews that operatives from the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command had been assigned to the group to help with the surveillance missions. Other American officials, however, said that no military personnel were involved with the task force.
Special operations troops routinely work with the C.I.A. in Pakistan. Among other things, they helped the agency pinpoint the location of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the deputy Taliban commander who was arrested in January 2010 in Karachi.
Even before his arrest, Mr. Davis’s C.I.A. affiliation was known to Pakistani authorities, who keep close tabs on the movements of Americans. His visa, presented to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in late 2009, describes his job as a “regional affairs officer,” a common job description for officials working with the agency.
According to that application, Mr. Davis carried an American diplomatic passport and was listed as “administrative and technical staff,” a category that typically grants diplomatic immunity to its holder.
American officials said that with Pakistan’s government trying to clamp down on the increasing flow of Central Intelligence Agency officers and contractors trying to gain entry to Pakistan, more of these operatives have been granted “cover” as embassy employees and given diplomatic passports.
As Mr. Davis languishes in a jail cell in Lahore — the subject of an international dispute at the highest levels — new details are emerging of what happened in a dramatic daytime scene on the streets of central Lahore, a sprawling city, on Jan. 27.
By the American account, Mr. Davis was driving alone in an impoverished area rarely visited by foreigners, and stopped his car at a crowded intersection. Two Pakistani men brandishing weapons hopped off motorcycles and approached. Mr. Davis killed them with the Glock, an act American officials insisted was in self-defense against armed robbers.
But on Sunday, the text of the Lahore Police Department’s crime report was published in English by a prominent daily newspaper, The Daily Times, and it offered a somewhat different account.
It is based in part on the version of events Mr. Davis told Pakistani authorities, and it seems to raise doubts about his claim that the shootings were in self-defense.
According to that report, Mr. Davis told the police that after shooting the two men, he stepped out of the car to take photographs of one of them, then called the United States Consulate in Lahore for help.
But the report also said that the victims were shot several times in the back, a detail that some Pakistani officials say proves the killings were murder. By this account, after firing at the men through his windshield, Mr. Davis stepped out of the car and continued firing. The report said that Mr. Davis then got back in his car and “managed to escape,” but that the police gave chase and “overpowered” him at a traffic circle a short distance away.
In a bizarre twist that has further infuriated the Pakistanis, a third man was killed when an unmarked Toyota Land Cruiser racing to Mr. Davis’s rescue, drove the wrong way down a one-way street and ran over a motorcyclist, killing him. As the Land Cruiser drove “recklessly” back to the consulate, the report said, items fell out of the vehicle, including 100 bullets, a black mask and a piece of cloth with the American flag.
Pakistani officials have demanded that the Americans in the S.U.V. be turned over to local authorities, but American officials say they have already left the country.
Mr. Davis and the other Americans were heavily armed and carried sophisticated equipment, the report said.
The Pakistani Foreign Office, generally considered to work under the guidance of the ISI, has declined to grant Mr. Davis what it calls the “blanket immunity” from prosecution that diplomats enjoy. In a setback for Washington, the Lahore High Court last week gave the Pakistani government until March 14 to decide on the issue of Mr. Davis’s immunity.
The pro-American government led by President Asif Ali Zardari, fearful for its survival in the face of a surge of anti-American sentiment, has resisted strenuous pressure from the Obama administration to release Mr. Davis to the United States. Some militant and religious groups have demanded that Mr. Davis be tried in the Pakistani courts and hanged.
Relations between the two spy agencies were tense even before the episode on the streets of Lahore. In December, the C.I.A.’s top clandestine officer in Pakistan hurriedly left the country after his identity was revealed. Some inside the agency believe that ISI operatives were behind the disclosure — retribution for the head of the ISI, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, being named in a New York City lawsuit filed in connection with the 2008 terror attack in Mumbai, in which members of his agency are believed to have played a role. I.S.I. officials denied that was the case.
One senior Pakistani official close to the ISI said Pakistani spies are particularly infuriated over the Davis episode because it was such a public spectacle. Besides the three Pakistanis who died at the scene, the widow of one of the victims committed suicide by swallowing rat poison.
Moreover, the official said, the case was embarrassing for the ISI for its flagrancy, revealing how much freedom American spies have to roam around the country.
“We all know the spy-versus-spy games, we all know it works in the shadows,” the official said, “but you don’t get caught, and you don’t get caught committing murders.”
Mr. Davis, burly at 36, appears to have arrived in Pakistan in late 2009 or early 2010. American officials said he operated as part of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Global Response Staff in various parts of the country, including Lahore and Peshawar.
Documents released by Pakistan’s foreign office show that Mr. Davis was paid $200,000 a year, including travel expenses and insurance.
He is a native of rural, southwest Virginia, described by those who know him as an unlikely figure to be at the center of international intrigue.
He grew up in Big Stone Gap, a small town named after the gap in the mountains where the Powell River emerges.
The youngest of three children, Mr. Davis enlisted in the military after graduating from Powell Valley High School in 1993.
“I guess about any man’s dream is to serve his country,” said his sister Michelle Wade.
Shrugging off the portrait of him as an international spy comfortable with a Glock, Ms. Wade said: “He would always walk away from a fight. That’s just who he is.”
His high school friends remember him as good-natured, athletic, respectful. He was also a protector, they said, the type who stood up for the underdog.
“Friends with everyone, just a salt of the earth person,” said Jennifer Boring, who graduated from high school with Mr. Davis.
Mr. Davis served in the infantry in Europe — including a short tour as a peacekeeper in Macedonia — before joining the Third Special Forces Group in 1998, where he remained until he left the Army in 2003. The Army Special Forces —known as the Green Berets — are an elite group trained in foreign languages and cultures and weapons.
It is unclear when Mr. Davis began working for the C.I.A., but American officials said that in recent years he worked for the spy agency as a Blackwater contractor and later founded his own small company, Hyperion Protective Services.
Mr. Davis and his wife have moved frequently, living in Las Vegas, Arizona and Colorado.
One neighbor in Colorado, Gary Sollee, said that Mr. Davis described himself as “former military,” adding that “he’d have to leave the country for work pretty often, and when he’s gone, he’s gone for an extended period of time.”
Mr. Davis’s sister, Ms. Wade, said she has been praying for her brother’s safe return.
“The only thing I’m going to say is I love my brother,” she said. “I love my brother, God knows, I love him. I’m just praying for him.”
Eric Schmitt and Mark Mazzetti reported from Washington, Jane Perlez from Pakistan and Ashley Parker from Big Stone Gap, Va. Ismail Khan contributed reporting from Peshawar, Pakistan, and Waqar Gillani from Lahore, Pakistan.
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