Published January 27, 2012
ISLAMABAD – One year after a CIA contractor shot to death two Pakistanis, relatives of the victims are living off generous compensation they received in a deal that led authorities to free the American.
But the family of the man killed by an U.S. vehicle rushing to the scene of the shootings has received nothing, a lingering sore in still festering ties between Washington and Islamabad.
"Pakistani rulers are puppets of America," said Malik Waqar, who demonstrated with dozens of others Friday in the city of Lahore. "We are here to tell the Americans that we are not cowards like our rulers, and we will continue raising our voices until Abbad ur Rehman's family gets justice."
The dead man's brother, Ejaz ur Rehman, has insisted in the past that the family didn't desire payment but wanted to see the driver of the vehicle that killed Abbad taken to court. The driver is believed to have left the country soon after the shooting.
But Rehman told The Associated Press that the family was now open to receiving a payout because it seemed unlikely the driver will ever face trial in Pakistan. He said they wanted the same amount of money received by the families of the two men killed by the contractor, Raymond Davis. Officials said at the time they were paid up to $2.34 million between them.
The U.S Embassy and other foreign missions are reported to have paid compensation in other cases in which employees have been involved in road traffic accidents. Such deals, often informally negotiated between both parties, are common in Pakistan but rarely result in payments of more than $10,000.
The embassy declined to discuss the case or Rehman's comments.
"As we have said, we deeply regret the loss of life in this case, as in the others, and we have expressed our sorrow for the victim's family," said a U.S. official, who didn't give his name because he didn't have clearance to speak about the matter. "Beyond this, it would be inappropriate to discuss the issue in public."
The Jan. 27, 2011 shooting in the eastern city of Lahore and the diplomatic standoff that followed represented one of the first incidents to derail an alliance that the Obama administration was trying to strengthen. Pakistani cooperation is vital in defeating Al Qaeda and ending the war in Afghanistan.
What was always an uneasy relationship has only got worse since then, with the unilateral American raid that killed Usama bin Laden in a Pakistani army town in May and a deadly friendly-fire incident that killed two dozen Pakistani border troops in November.
Davis, 37, claimed the two men he shot on the street in Lahore were trying to rob him and that he acted in self-defense.
One was carrying a gun, television footage briefly shown on Pakistani TV indicated. There were also widely reported suspicions that the men, both from poor families, were on the payroll of Pakistani intelligence agencies and were trailing Davis.
The U.S. government initially described Davis as either a U.S. consular or embassy official, but officials later acknowledged he was working for the CIA, confirming suspicions that had aired in the Pakistani media. He was said to be working as a security contractor in Lahore, protecting other CIA employees as they gathered intelligence.
The State Department had insisted Davis was covered by diplomatic immunity. But Pakistan's government, facing intense pressure from Islamist parties, sections of the media and the general public, never said whether it agreed this was the case.
Seven weeks after the shooting, Davis was freed after "blood money" was paid to the families of the two victims.
The families initially said they didn't want compensation, possibly because they were being influenced by right-wing politicians and Islamist groups that relished the opportunity to pressure the U.S. and the Pakistani government.
The deal was negotiated in secret, but Pakistani officials said that it was anything between $1 and $2.34 million. U.S. officials never formally acknowledged paying money, but one said "we are expecting a bill" from the Pakistani government.
Since receiving the funds, the families have avoided the media, with some reports speculating they had left Pakistan.
Abbad ur Rehman was driving to work when his bike was hit by a car dispatched by the American consulate in Lahore to extract Davis, who had radioed for help after shooting dead the two Pakistanis.
His brother, Ejaz, said they now believed a compensation payment from the U.S. was the best solution.
"If we are going for compensation, we would like a decent amount," he said by telephone. "What the other two families received would be fair."
Rehman, who studied law in the United Kingdom and now runs an immigration agency, has protested each Sunday outside the consulate along with a few dozen other supporters. The case has largely fallen off the radar of Pakistan's media.
The U.S. Justice Department is investigating the shootings, a probe that could result in charges against Davis in the United States. Meanwhile, Davis is due to face trial this month in Colorado, charged with felony second-degree assault for a fight outside a bagel shop on Oct. 1.