Davis case should not mar Pakistan-US ties: Kerry

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

ISLAMABAD - Seeking to ease tension over the arrest of a US official for killing two Pakistanis, a top American senator has said the incident should not affect the longterm relationship between the two countries.

Raymond Davis, an official with the US diplomatic mission in Lahore, has been in judicial custody pending investigation. He was arrested Jan 27 for killing two men in Lahore. Davis claimed to have acted on self-defence, saying the two men were trying to rob him.

“Everybody in America shares the grief and pain of two youngsters murdered at the hands of Raymond Davis,” said the chairman of the US senate’s foreign relations committee, John Kerry, speaking to journalists at the US consulate in Lahore.

He said: “We, the Americans, feel sorry about this extremely tragic incident and want to assure that there is absolutely no arrogance on our part in the whole affair.”

Kerry arrived in Pakistan Tuesday on an emergency visit. He is expected to meet high-ranking Pakistani government officials and play the role of an interlocutor in the case that has threatened to cast a shadow on the Pakistan-US relations.

“I have not come here to act as an arbitrator in the case. But we had felt tensions creeping up on this matter and this could jeopardise our longterm relationship,” he said, adding “my message on this trip is to look at the larger picture”.

Kerry said: “The Department of Justice in US will probe the matter and I can assure you that we’ll take all the evidence into account before proceeding forward.”.

“We must not forget that this man is a diplomat and enjoys immunity under the Vienna convention,” he stressed.

“I am here to listen and ease tensions instead of giving any orders,” he said and suggested that the people in the US and Pakistan should look at the situation “without being emotional”.

“The bilateral relation is not fragile to be devastated by such an incident,” Kerry said in response to a question.

Recalling his association with Pakistan, he said: “I was the first US official to reach Pakistan after floods and advocate for assistance to the distressed people. The purpose of Kerry-Lugar-Burman bill was also to broaden the relation with Pakistan in a multi-faceted manner.”

US President Barack Obama earlier said in Washington that Pakistan has been “asked to accept the diplomatic status of Raymond Davis”.

The spokesman of the US state department has also said that they would “produce evidence in Lahore court Thursday for verification of diplomatic immunity of Davis”.

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