The Punjab government has turned down a formal request by the US diplomatic mission seeking transfer of CIA contractor Raymond Davis from Kot Lakhpat prison to the Governor House in Lahore, an official told The Express Tribune.
“After examining the different aspects of the US demand the Punjab government refused it and termed it unworkable,” the official said, requesting anonymity.
It was proposed that Davis, who is facing a double murder trial in Kot Lakhpat jail, be shifted to the Governor’s House, two rooms of which could be declared a sub-jail, the source added.
It was also demanded that the trial of Davis should be conducted in the Governor House. The demand was made to ensure safety and well-being of the high-profile US official as the American media has expressed concerns, terming Davis’ detention in the jail a risk to his life.
The Punjab government has however assured the US that the best possible security arrangements have been made for the CIA contractor who shot dead two Pakistanis in Lahore.
The provincial government’s decision to move the trial court in the jail was also aimed at ensuring his safety, the source said, adding, “Every concession provided under jail manual is being extended to the US national.”
The official said that any extra allowance to Davis by the Punjab government could cause resentment in the public. “The issue will also be exploited by the religious groups and political parties who are constantly opposing diplomatic immunity for Davis. Do you think that the religious and extremist groups who are demanding death sentence for the killer will accept this proposition?” the source said, explaining the government’s reasons for turning down the demand. “No, not at all. They will never accept the proposal at any cost and under any circumstances,” he remarked.
He said that the US diplomats who made the demand to the Punjab government were of the view that the federal government and the Governor Punjab would agree to it if it was accepted by the provincial government.
Before formally refusing the proposal, the Punjab government discussed it with the legal and security departments and also examined the proposal’s possible political implications and the public reaction if it was met.
The provincial police, intelligence and security departments opposed the demand saying Davis may slip out of the Governor House, the source claimed.
“He is an extraordinarily smart and shrewd person who has the skills to dodge the police and the security departments easily,” the source said.
The law department also disapproved the proposal and said that shifting Davis would be tantamount to placing the prisoner under the federal government’s custody, relieving the provincial government of it, the official said.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 7th, 2011.