Since January, when a CIA contractor shot two Pakistanis to death on the streets of the country’s second-largest city, life has moved on for the main protagonists in what became the first of several low points this year in U.S.-Pakistani relations.
But the incident remains a gaping wound for one Pakistani family. In the commotion that followed the shooting, a U.S. Consulate vehicle rushing to the scene struck and killed Abbad ur-Rehman, a 32-year-old shop owner who was riding his motorcycle to work.
Rehman’s death received little attention, in part because unlike Raymond Davis, the contractor who became a focus of anti-American sentiment during his two-month stint in jail, the driver who killed Rehman was never apprehended. U.S. authorities have neither confirmed nor denied the hit-and-run account, and more than eight months after Rehman’s death, his family’s quest for answers remains fruitless.
“We are not in a state of war, when you can kill anyone and you are not bothered,” said Rehman’s older brother Ejaz, 40, who was following his brother on a separate motorcycle that day. “I want to see justice being done.”
The role of Davis’s two victims in the shooting is unclear, as they were carrying firearms at the time and Davis said they attempted to rob him. Davis returned to the United States in March after $2.3 million was paid to the families of the two victims under an Islamic legal principle.
No one doubts Rehman was an innocent bystander in the unfolding drama. Ejaz ur-Rehman insisted that his family is not interested in monetary compensation but simply wants the truth to come out, starting with the name of the driver who hit his brother. He said the family decided to ask the provincial and federal Pakistani governments to request information from U.S. authorities.
After receiving no response from the Pakistani government, the family took the matter to the local court, hoping a judge would force Pakistani authorities to comply with the family’s request. After several hearings, the matter is still pending.
It seems the case has also fallen victim to internal politics. In an interview, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said that the federal government could bring pressure to bear on the United States only if the Punjab government, which is controlled by the political opposition, formally asks it to do so and that no such request had been made. He said that the Punjab police asked for the driver of the vehicle to be handed over but that the U.S. Consulate did not comply.
“At the federal level, nothing has been shared by the U.S. with us,” said Malik. “Whoever has killed, I think, should be brought to justice.”
Malik also said Rehman’s relatives had been offered money to settle the case but rejected it. Rehman’s brother and the U.S. Embassy denied that claim.
“The U.S. government made no offer in this regard,” said Mark Stroh, the spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad.
The Rehman family has taken its demands directly to U.S. authorities by staging weekly nonviolent protests in front of the U.S. Consulate in Lahore, but Ejaz ur-Rehman said no one has come out of the building to hear their grievances.
A U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case, said U.S. authorities had contacted the Rehman family.
“We’ve been in touch with the family,” the official said. “I can’t go into more detail, but we’re pursuing it.”
Stroh said that several U.S. officials had expressed regrets over the lives lost in the Davis incident. Stroh also said a U.S. Justice Department investigation into the Davis case was ongoing. A Justice Department spokeswoman couldn’t be reached for comment.
Ejaz ur-Rehman said his brother’s shop, which specialized in women’s accessories, was shut down a couple of months after his brother’s death because no one in the family could keep it going. He said another of his brothers remains so distressed by the death and its aftermath that he has stopped going to work. But Rehman said no one in the family is ready to give up the fight just yet.
“It’s like our part-time job,” he said. “It’s loyalty to our brother.”
Correspondent Karin Brulliard in Islamabad contributed to this report.