LAHORE: Chief of his own faction of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), Nawaz Sharif on Sunday postponed his scheduled tour to the UK. Sharif was supposed to leave on Monday on a private visit but he cancelled his plans owing to his current engagements.
Sources in the PML-N said that the US has put immense pressure on Nawaz Sharif to relieve the US official involved in the Lahore shootings. The Punjab government is involved in litigation and investigation against US Embassy official Raymond Davis. Party members said that US Ambassador in Pakistan Cameron Munter on Saturday asked Nawaz Sharif to resolve the issue.
They said that Nawaz has held several meetings with seasoned party officials, discussing the matter in depth, adding that Munter told Nawaz that the federal government had assured the ambassador it will not create any hurdles if the Punjab government was ready to facilitate Davis’ release.
Party members said that Nawaz has assigned PML-N office-bearers the task of persuading the family of the dead person to pardon Davis. Nawaz has cancelled all other party activities and is taking a personal interest in the matter, they said.
According to PML-N officials, the federal government has informed foreign diplomats that the Punjab government is responsible for legal procedures against Davis because he committed the crime in Lahore. They said that the Punjab government’s involvement in the Davis issue and the US’ pressure on Nawaz have forced the PML-N chief to cancel his foreign visit.
Religious parties and various factions of the Pakistan Muslim League have started a campaign against Davis and if Nawaz takes a wrong step, he risks losing his popularity. On the other hand if he refuses to cooperate with the US, he could lose his good reputation there, a party official said.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 31st, 2011.
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