Pakistan-US relations: Who will blink first (Part-II)

But beyond the questions of diplomatic immunity and self-defense versus murder, and even beyond the individuals involved, the real issue has become the future of US-Pak relations, its impact on the war on terror and Afghanistan and the kind of patron-client relations between the two countries.

The US has threatened, through a visiting congressional delegation that the US Congress may find it difficult to continue American aid unless Davis was released.

The US has put on hold all high level bilateral contacts. Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, General Asfaq Pervez Kayani, was delivered a terse message from US Secretary of States Hillary Clinton in Munich last week to have Davis released.

A similar message has been delivered to Pakistan’s Ambassador in the United States Husain Haqqani.

The question being asked is why is the US taking such a strident stand for one individual, risking a rupture in relations?

Conspiracy theorists believe that the US is possibly apprehensive that if Davis is not released soon enough, the Pakistani authorities would interrogate him, and under sustained interrogation, he may reveal information that would make the Wikileaks revelations look like a nursery rhyme.

Several Pakistani commentators have speculated wildly about the links of Davis and his ilk with terrorists in Pakistan. Forever blaming others for their woes, these commentators have speculated that Davis could possibly be linked to the terrorist violence in Pakistan in recent times, something that the US would go to great lengths to prevent from coming out.

Beyond the individual case of Raymond Davis, the problem for the US is that like Davis, it has hundreds of operatives in the garb of ‘consultants’ and ‘contractors’ working not only in Pakistan, but also in other trouble spots like Afghanistan and Iraq, etc.

All of them would be watching how the Davis case is handled by the US, because it will directly impact on their own security and mechanics of operation.

It is common knowledge that the US uses such contractors to do its dirty work abroad. Without the unhindered operations of these contractors, the US will not be able to achieve whatever objectives it has set for itself. These contractors operate beyond the pale of the local law, but enable the US government to tell Congress and the US people that they are not violating any US law.

The other question is whether the threats are real or only threats. Can the US afford a rupture in relations over this case?