If Pakistan and the United States are to work together against terrorism, we must avoid political incidents that could further inflame tensions and provide extremists or opportunists with a pretext for destabilizing our fledgling democracy. The Raymond Davis incident in Lahore, which directly resulted in the deaths of three Pakistani men and the suicide of a Pakistani woman, is a prime example of the unanticipated consequences of problematic behavior. We need not go into the legal, moral and political intricacies of this case. Suffice it to say that the actions of Davis and others like him inflame passions in our country and undermine respect and support for the United States among our people. We are committed to peaceful adjudication of the Davis case in accordance with the law. But it is in no one’s interest to allow this matter to be manipulated and exploited to weaken the government of Pakistan and damage further the U.S. image in our country.
Similarly counterproductive are threats to apply sanctions to Pakistan over the Davis affair by cutting off Kerry-Lugar development funds that were designed to build infrastructure, strengthen education and create jobs. It is a threat, written out of the playbook of America’s enemies, whose only result will be to undermine U.S. strategic interests in South and Central Asia. In an incendiary environment, hot rhetoric and dysfunctional warnings can start fires that will be difficult to extinguish.