AMERICAN citizen Warren Weinstein’s disappearance from his Lahore home on Saturday is an intriguing case which keeps the focus on foreign nationals here. There is a temptation to strengthen sceptical perceptions regarding all foreigners, the media having hit a goldmine in the infamous Raymond Davis instance earlier this year. This virtually turns all foreign nationals in Pakistan into suspects, and thus another ‘gora’ involved in a road accident in Lahore on Sunday is liable to be viewed as an intruder and much worse. This attitude takes the attention off the legal aspects and feeds the syndrome where many Pakistanis see themselves at loggerheads with every other nationality in the country. Mr Weinstein’s ‘kidnapping’ could have grave consequences. A life may be at stake. Who he is and what he does are logical queries; we won’t have the answers until we know where he is and why.
The Punjab government’s emphasis in this case remains on highlighting the ‘responsibility of others’. From what has reached the newspaper columns from the investigators, we learn that the close-circuit cameras at Mr Weinstein’s house were not working when he was ‘taken away’ by unknown people and that he did not feel the need to keep the police informed about his movement. Moreover, his guards are said to have been comprised of ex-army commandos from outside Punjab, in fact northwest Pakistan. Even if it is not intentional, the supply of such details creates an impression that the police are trying to shift responsibility — something they were also accused of doing in the past, for example in the case of journalist Saleem Shahzad who was thought to have been ‘kidnapped’ in Islamabad before his dead body was found in Punjab. It is simple. An individual has gone missing and the police must spare no effort to trace him.