ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani court is to begin proceedings Friday at a hearing into double murder charges against a CIA contractor who shot dead two men in Lahore last month, lawyers said.
The Pakistani court where police filed double murder charges against Davis this month is to sit Friday inside Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore, where Davis is being held, ahead of a High Court hearing to determine the diplomatic immunity issue, set for March 14.
“The hearing will be held inside Kot Lakhpat jail and notices have been served to all concerned,” public prosecutor Abdul Samad told AFP.
“The immunity case before the Lahore High Court will not affect the proceedings of this court until the high court bars it from doing so,” Samad said.
“We have framed double-murder charges against him and the copies of the final report will be provided to all parties,” he added.
Asad Manzoor Butt, the lawyer for the families of the men who were shot dead by Davis, said he had also received a notice telling him to appear in court.
“We hope to get the copy of formal charges tomorrow. It depends on the judge if he starts the hearing or adjourns it after giving of copies,” Butt said.
CIA, ISI cooperation scaled back after Raymond Davis shooting
Cooperation between the American and Pakistani spy agencies has been scaled back because of an incident involving a CIA contractor shooting two Pakistanis, Pakistani intelligence officials said on Thursday.
A senior Pakistani intelligence official in Islamabad said the case of Raymond Davis had strained but not broken relations between the CIA and the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligences (ISI) because the ISI didn’t know about Davis before he shot and killed two Pakistanis on January 27 in Lahore.
“It’s not business as usual; it’s not open war,” the official told Reuters. “Cooperation and operations together will continue at a lesser scale.”
Another intelligence official denied rumours that the two agencies were not working together.
“We are not ready to split,” he said. “There has been a patch up because we have both realised that in the larger interest of the region and the war on terrorism, CIA and ISI must work together.”
The case of 36-year-old Davis, a former US special forces officer, has strained the already-uneasy alliance between the United States and Pakistan.
Davis has been revealed to be a CIA contractor detailed to provide security at the US consulate in Lahore. The United States says the assignment gives Davis diplomatic immunity and he should be released immediately.
The US embassy in Islamabad declined to comment.
The possible presence of more CIA contractors like Davis worries the ISI because they don’t know how many there are, their identities or their duties. Officials say there could be “hundreds”.
“We are concerned,” the first official told Reuters. “We don’t know how many and we have asked them (CIA) to give this information to us. But they haven’t done that yet.”
It is widely thought the CIA is running a network of spies in Pakistan for a number of reasons: identifying militant targets for a campaign of strikes by unmanned drone aircraft, gathering intelligence on militant groups and on Pakistan’s nuclear programme.
Signs of strain were evident in a letter the ISI sent to the Wall Street Journal in response to an article the newspaper published on the tension between the agencies.
“It is regrettable that CIA leadership on many occasions has failed to show respect to the relationship of the two agencies and has acted with arrogance towards ISI which has resulted in weakening the relationship on which it is entirely dependant,” the ISI said, according to a copy seen by Reuters.
“Involvement of CIA with Raymond Davis is beyond any shadow of doubt. Post incident conduct of CIA has virtually put the partnership into question. Irrespective of the commonality of objectives in this war on terror, it is hard to predict if the relationship will ever reach the level at which it was prior to the Davis episode.”
Relations between the two agencies has been on a downward slide since December when the CIA station chief in Islamabad was forced to leave the country after his name was published in a court filing over drone attacks.
The CIA believes the ISI leaked the name to a lawyer filing the case in retaliation for a civil court case arising from a militant attack on the Indian city of Mumbai in 2008, that could seek to put the head of the ISI in the dock of a Brooklyn courtroom.
The ISI also resents US suspicion over its commitment to fighting militancy.
Although Pakistan officially abandoned support for the Taliban after joining the US-led war against al Qaeda and the Taliban, critics, and some US military officers, say the ISI maintains ties with some of the Afghan Taliban groups to check rival India’s influence in Afghanistan.
Analysts say the ISI was behind the formation and training of several anti-Indian militant groups based in Punjab that have joined forces with the Pakistani Taliban to attack the state and its agencies, including the ISI.
The militants have carried out several attacks on the agency in recent years, killing dozens of agents.
“We are fighting not at the behest or for the Americans. We are fighting a war for ourselves, for our future,” the first intelligence official said. “We just have common interests. For both of us to succeed, we need each other.”