Davis holds diplomatic passport, says Malik

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

ISLAMABAD - Amid uncertainty over claimed diplomatic immunity of Raymond Davis, arrested for gunning down two Pakistanis in Lahore, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said Wednesday that the US citizen is in the country on a valid diplomatic passport.

“I can confirm that Davis arrived in Pakistan on a valid diplomatic visa, which was granted to him after proper screening by the secret agencies,” Malik said.

“The case in in court and the media as well as the public must wait for a final verdict before jumping on any conclusions,” he said.

The minister was responding to the remarks of opposition leader in the national assembly, Chaudhury Nisar Ali Khan of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. Nisar had alleged that “the government has assured American authorities that Davis will be released on the grounds of diplomatic immunity”.

Malik urged the political parties and general public to leave emotions aside in the high-profile case and focus on the facts of the case.

Davis was arrested in Lahore, capital of Punjab province, Jan 27 on charges of shooting two young men. He claimed he was acting in self-defence as the two youngsters were armed and were trying to rob him.

The request of the US embassy to release Davis on the grounds of diplomatic immunity has been turned down by the government.

Malik said the name of Davis has been “included in exit control list (ECL) on the directions of the Lahore High Court”.

The high court Tuesday directed to put Davis on ECL to prevent him from leaving the country. Javed Iqbal Jafri, a lawyer, had filed the petition fearing that Davis might be handed over to the US under some sort of a deal.

Accusing the media of trying to create a rift between the federal and the PML-N-led Punjab provincial governments on the issue of Davis, Malik assured people that “the federal government has no intention of influencing the case or acting in the domain of the provincial government”.

“I have taken the file of this case in my own custody to ensure that,” he stated.

The Pakistani federal and provincial governments have withstood the US pressure for release of Davis and have vowed to try him under local laws.

Davis was remanded in police custody last week where he remains under investigation. Police have registered two new cases, of murder and carrying illegal weapons, against him.

There were speculations over his actual diplomatic status and it was being apprehended that he was an under-cover agent and not part of the diplomatic staff.

President Asif Ali Zardari had told a US congressional delegation a couple of days ago that “the decision of the court must be awaited” when the question of release of Davis was raised before him.

Filed under: Diplomacy

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