US ratchets up pressure for Davis’ release

Several Pakistan-US bilateral engagements put off; Munter meets Zardari to convey Clinton’s message.

Sumera Khan/kamran Yousaf February 08, 2011

ISLAMABAD: The United States has put on hold several bilateral engagements with Pakistan in the latest move to pressure Islamabad to release its citizen Raymond Davis, who is facing charges for killing two Pakistanis in Lahore last month.

The incident has strained relations between the two countries, as the US postponed bilateral visits, including a scheduled trip by its Deputy Secretary of Treasury Neal Wolin to Pakistan. “The visit of the US deputy secretary of treasury has been postponed due to unavoidable circumstances,” said a Foreign Office official quoting diplomatic correspondence from Washington.

The official, requesting not to be identified, said the visit was delayed due to the ‘standoff’ between the two countries on the Davis issue.

“US officials are not ready to discuss anything other than the American national’s release at this stage,” he added.

When approached, the US embassy spokesperson promised to get back on the development but she never did.

Sources in the Foreign Office say several other visits by US congressional delegations are also in jeopardy due to the standoff between the two countries over the Lahore shooting.

The sources say that the Obama administration has even indicated that it may delay the forthcoming trilateral meeting among Pakistan, the US and Afghanistan in Washington later this month to discuss the Afghan endgame and the way forward.

There are reports that Pakistan’s Ambassador in Washington Hussain Haqqani has been called to the US State Department twice last week to convey to him the possible consequences of non-obligation of international laws by Islamabad on the Davis controversy.

The sources say that the US has limited its contacts with the Pakistani mission in Washington.

On the other hand, the government is still tight-lipped on the issue. “I am sorry, I don’t have anything to share with you on the Lahore shooting incident,” said presidential spokesperson Farhatullah Babar. He, nevertheless, tried to downplay the matter, saying the issue will be resolved.

Meanwhile, US Ambassador Cameron Munter called on President Asif Ali Zardari in Islamabad on Monday evening to convey a message from Secretary Clinton to immediately release Davis.

The message says Pakistan should respect the international laws and keep in mind that Davis has diplomatic immunity as he is a member of the administrative and technical staff of the mission, according to sources.

“Though we regret the loss of lives in the tragic incident, we believe our citizen cannot be tried in Pakistan for any criminal offence,” the message adds. “The US has no intention of waiving off the immunity that gives cover to Davis.”

Ambassador Munter is said to have refused to give an assurance to President Zardari on trying Davis in a US court.

The president told the ambassador about the public pressure on the issue, citing street protests and the suicide of Shumaila, widow of Faheem, one of the two men killed in the Lahore shooting.

The president denied any pressure from the military or involvement of the intelligence agencies in the case. But he said Davis’ movements and his activities and the material recovered from him provide enough room to investigate the case and question him.

A press release from the presidential spokesperson says that “Pakistan-US bilateral relations were discussed in the meeting.”

Ambassador Munter also had meetings at the Foreign Office where he expressed his country’s concern over the prosecution of Davis in Pakistani court. The Foreign Office spokesperson refused to comment on the case and especially on the possible action to be taken on the status to Davis.

Victims’ identity: Intelligence officials refute claim

Intelligence officials have contradicted a report published in The Express Tribune, which alleged that the two motorcyclists killed by Raymond Davis in Lahore were intelligence operatives.

The report had claimed that the death of the intelligence personnel was the reason behind the government’s reluctance to free Davis and that it was in retaliation to the summoning of a top ISI official by a US court.

The official regretted that such “speculative reporting”, appearing on the front page of a major newspaper on such a sensitive matter, which was sub judice and “detrimental to the security interests of Pakistan”, was published without any confirmation from the concerned quarters.

The official vehemently denied that there was any linkage whatsoever between the US court’s summon and the Lahore incident.

The intelligence agency reserves the right to initiate legal action against The Express Tribune, said the official.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 8th, 2011.


Subbu Jois | 10 years ago | Reply I keep reading of some wishful thinking that China will support Pak in the event of US withdrawing their support to Pak - the naivety surprises me - give me two reasons why China will pay your bills? They are as much dependent on US/Europe for their economy and vice-versa. It would be impossible for China to support Pak in the face of international pressure, if the rest of the world were to withdraw support to Pak. Quit delusions! Exceptfor the Gwadar port (which they have funded to meet their own ends), there is little of strategic value in Pak. They will not jeopardize their relations with India for Pak, when Indo-China trade is heading towards $ 100 Billion and Pak-China trade is tottering, and funded by the Chinese themselves. The wars of 21st century will not be fought with weapons but with economic powers. It will do Pak well to move towards economic independence rather than hold a begging bowl to either the US or China. The present impasse is surely going to affect the economic aid that Pak gets from US, especially given the adverse public opinion that it is causing in the US. Pak govt. will do well to close the matter amicably and fast, before the situation gets out of hand. The solution lies between the people and the govts of the two countries. The inconsistencies, conspiracy theories and the consequent mass hysteria is only fueling more suspicion and skepticism from the international community and isolating Pak further. It will hurt Pak to drive itself into a corner that it cannot get out off.
Lala | 10 years ago | Reply Please watch this video.. raymond talks for himself..
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