ISLAMABAD: Pakistani authorities have assured US Senator John Kerry that American “consular employee” Raymond Davis, who is facing double murder charges, will not be tried on espionage charges, The Express Tribune has learnt.
Senator Kerry, who had spearheaded the $7.5 billion aid package for Pakistan in the US Congress, had a whirlwind tour of Pakistan on Tuesday to discuss the Davis issue.
This is notwithstanding the fact that Davis has admitted during the course of investigation that he was involved in spying in Pakistan. Sources say that the police have a recorded a confessional statement made by Davis.
Sources told The Express Tribune that Senator Kerry was also assured that Islamabad would not demand the custody of the three US nationals, who were in the vehicle which had crushed to death another Pakistani and are now believed to be hiding in the US consulate-general in Lahore.
They were in a Prado jeep trying to rescue Davis after he allegedly shot dead two young motorcyclists in a busy marketplace of Lahore on January 27.
The Punjab police and intelligence officials, however, claim that they have strong evidence suggesting that the three men are also high-profile ‘spies’ like Davis.
“The evidence was provided by Davis in his confessional statement during investigation,” a senior police official told The Express Tribune, requesting anonymity. “We have concluded that a gang of American spies is active in Punjab and other parts of the country,” he added.
The official said that “besides Davis’s confessional statement we have every reason to believe that the three absconding persons were his collaborators.”
“They must be involved in spying like Davis. If this was not the case why did they flee the crime scene in panic,” the official said. “In their panic, they had crushed to death a motorcyclist under their SUV while fleeing the scene.”
The official questioned why nobody was demanding diplomatic immunity for the three men, if they were members of the US mission in Pakistan. “This criminal silence on the part of the Americans shows there is something fishy,” the official said.
The official believes that the mounting US pressure for Davis’s release was aimed at covering the three ‘agents’. “None of the US officials has spoken a single word about the three US nationals believed to be hiding in the US consulate-general in Lahore.” “Protecting the people wanted by police is a serious crime,” the official said and added that under the international laws, protectors of criminals are considered to be collaborators in the crime.
The Punjab police have requested the ministry of foreign affairs for help in getting the custody of the three US nationals but to no avail. The capital city police officer Lahore (CCPO) has also informed the ministry about the contents of the FIR registered against the ‘unidentified’ men travelling in the consulate’s Prado.
The Prado jeep is said to have a fake registration number, which was originally issued to a Suzuki Cultus car.
Investigators believe that the three American nationals who had come to Davis’s rescue are also US spies and they had come to the scene to take safe custody of secret documents and photographs from Davis.
“We have every reason to believe that Davis had called the three men to collect the ‘material’ which is now in the possession of police,” the official said.
The Punjab government’s unflinching stance on the issue stems from the fact that it is convinced of Davis’s involvement in anti-Pakistan activities, a source said.
Meanwhile on the political front, President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had a meeting at the President House where the Davis issue, particularly the mounting US pressure for his release, was discussed. A short statement issued after the meeting did not give details of the meeting. “Issues relating to the war against militancy were discussed during the meeting,” it said. However, sources said that the meeting focused on the Pak-US diplomatic spat over Davis and Pakistan’s policy viz-a-viz the issue.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 19th, 2011.