Pakistan government in a fix over Davis issue

Monday, February 21, 2011

ISLAMABAD - The Raymond Davis affair continues to be a headache for Islamabad. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani Monday admitted in parliament that Pakistan and the US have “differences in approach” on dealing with the issue of Davis, arrested on charges of killing two alleged robbers, but he added that “national sovereignty” would not be compromised.

Gilani, addressing the parliament Monday evening, said that “the United States and Pakistan have differences in approach towards the Davis case”. However, we’ll not compromise on national sovereignty,” he assured, Geo TV reported.

“The government has complete sympathy with the families of the youngsters shot dead by Davis,” Gilani said adding that “the case is now being heard by a court of law which will decide the question of diplomatic immunity and the government will respect the verdict by all means.”

Davis was arrested by police in Lahore, capital of Pakistani Punjab, Jan 27 when he publicly shot down two youngsters riding a motorbike. He later claimed in the court that he had acted in self-defence because they were trying to rob him at an ATM machine at gun point.

The US administration has been pressing the Pakistani government and foreign office to release Davis under the cover of diplomatic immunity. The repeated pleas, as well as a high-profile visit of US senate’s foreign relations committee chairman John Kerry have not yielded any positive result as yet.

The Interior Minister of Pakistan, Rehman Malik, on the other hand, speaking outside the parliament, again quietly confessed that “Davis came to Pakistan on a diplomatic passport, although his exact nature of job was not revealed to the authorities concerned”.

“We are bound to grant visas to the diplomtic staff as the host country when it is officially requested.” he said, adding that the “question of granting diplomatic immunity is now in the hands of the courts”, the channel said.

The Raymond Davis controversy has threatened to jeopardize the relations between Pakistan and US with some Ccongress members even advocating withdrawing the 1.5 billion dollars annual funding being given to the country.

However, the political elite on both sides has been maintaining that the issue will not be allowed to threaten the bilateral relations on the larger canvas. The police authorities have already booked Davis under section 302 of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) that deals with “murder by design”.

Filed under: Diplomacy

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