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منگل، 1 فروری، 2011

Pak-US diplomatic row

"The high court has said Raymond Davis should neither be handed over to any country nor be moved out of the jurisdiction of this court," the lawyer, Iqbal Jaffery, told Reuters.

A Pakistani court ordered the government Tuesday not to release an American official arrested in the shooting deaths of two Pakistanis despite U.S. insistence that he has diplomatic immunity and has been detained illegally.

Lahore High Court Chief Justice Ijaz Chaudhry also told the government to place the American on the "exit control list" so that he cannot leave the country. Some legal experts questioned whether the court had the authority to issue such orders, but the rulings could further complicate what has become a serious diplomatic spat between the two countries.

Many Pakistanis already regard the U.S. with suspicion or enmity because of its occupation of neighboring Afghanistan and regular missile attacks against militant targets in Pakistan's northwest. Islamist and rightwing opponents of Washington and the U.S.-allied government here have said the recent shooting was a further example of American brutality.

Pakistan and the United States are heading to a diplomatic row over the killing of Pakistani nationals by an American citizen in Lahore last week.

Raymond Davis, an employee of the American Consulate in Lahore, shot dead the Pakistanis on Jan. 27, claiming that he had acted in self-defence. Davis, driving a white-color car, was later arrested as his car was stuck up in the traffic after his brazen attack.

The police registered a double-murder case against the U.S. national on the requests by families of the slain men. The police said the accused had also been charged for carrying illegal arms as he failed to show license for his pistol.

Davis had introduced himself to the police as Technical Advisor in the American Consulate in Lahore is now being questioned for his action and activity in the city’s busiest area.

The President Mr Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani have made it clear that the issue - now a major hot subject in Pakistan - the court will decide the case. Other government leaders, senior police officer and prosecutors insist that the court decide fate of the American national.

But the U.S. has different view of the events and has claimed diplomatic immunity for Davis. Pakistanis are not agreed with the U.S. notion and say that the court will decide if the accused is entitled to the immunity or not.

Several Pakistani officials and the media reported that Davis is not a diplomat and was in Pakistan on a visit visa. Section of the Pakistani media said that the accused is either a soldier or a secret agent of the infamous Blackwater, a private mercenaries firm.

Shooting to death of Pakistanis by the U.S. national has not only caused a diplomatic row between the two allies but the tragic incident has sparked protest by the political, religious groups and the media.

The issue was also echoed in the parliament and lawmakers called for severe punishment to the American man. Several demonstrations were held across Pakistan and the demonstrators called for hanging of what they called the brutal killer.

The U.S. embassy issued two statements on Saturday and Sunday, calling for the release of its national on the basis of “ diplomatic immunity” but the Pakistanis are still insisting their earlier stand that court will decide.

Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Monday in Karachi that Pakistan will not accept any pressure on the issue and the court would decide the matter.

Petitions have also been moved in the Supreme Court and High Court in Lahore, seeking the courts intervention to block any possible release of handing over of the accused to the U.S. authorities.

The U.S. embassy ambassador in Islamabad had sought help from the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-N party, which leads the ruling coalition in Punjab province, but the ambassador has received the same response that let the “court decide the issue.”

The incident has pushed Pakistan to a complex situation as it is facing pressure on two fronts — internal as the opposition parties,affected family, rights groups want punishment to the killer — while the U.S. demands release of Davis on the basis of “Diplomatic Immunity.”

Both governments are stuck to their stated positions and no immediate solution seems to be imminent. If the situation remains so in the coming days, it means the allies in the so-called war on terror would head to a diplomatic row, observers said. Meanwhile visiting US delegation calls on President Asif Ali Zarari at the Aiwan-e-Sadr here on Monday and raised with the President the matter of US national, Raymond Davis, involved in the killing of Pakistani nationals in Lahore..

President said that Raymond Davis’s case was before the courts. It would be prudent to wait for the legal course to be completed, he said.

Discussing the Pak-uS relations, the President said a long-term and stable equation between the two countries marked by close collaboration and multidimensional cooperation guarantees not only development of the Pakistan but also peace and stability of the region. He expressed satisfaction on progress being made through the channel of Pak-US strategic dialogue on various sectoral levels.

The delegation included Representatives Darell El Issa, Todd R. Platts, Jason Chaffetz, Stephen F. Lynch, Brian M. Higgins and Raul L. Labrador. Mr. Stephen Engelken, Charge d’ Affairs, Mr. Thomas A. Alexander, senior Counsel (Majority) Committee on Oversight, Mr. Adam Pl. Fromm, Counsel (Majority) Director of Member Services and Mr. Scott Lindsay, Counsel (Majority) Committee on Oversight, were also present. Briefing media Spokesperson to the President Mr. Farhatullah Babar said that matters relating to Pak-US bilateral relations, mutual cooperation, fight against militancy, ROZs and security situation in the region among other related issues were discussed during the meeting. Mr. Babar said that the President highlighted economic situation of the country during the meeting and focused upon the need for US support to Pakistan in pleading its case for assistance and market access before the international community. Ours is a war ravaged and flood stricken economy, Babar quoted the President as saying, and our people need priority attention and assistance to overcome financial difficulties. Our priority, the President emphasized, is trade not aid. We need preferential market access to support our economy from the dire impacts of ongoing struggle against militancy, on one hand, and to rehabilitate and reconstruct damaged infrastructure due to devastating floods, on the other. The President urged the visiting delegation to use their influence to secure market access and trade for the country.

The members of congressional delegation appreciated the country’s struggle against militancy and assured US continued support in this regard to the people and the Government of Pakistan. The President reiterated his call for expediting passage of ROZs legislation to create economic opportunities for the people who are worst hit due to scourge of militancy. Discussing regional situation, the President reiterated Pakistan’s principled stance that it has an abiding interest in a stable, peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan and it firmly believes in neutrality and non-interference in internal affairs of the country. Pakistan, the President said, would continue to support all efforts for promoting sustainable peace, stability and development in Afghanistan.

He said that we firmly believe that political approach seconded by economic development was equally important for bringing stability to the war tarnished country. He said that Pakistan would support all efforts for the capacity building of the institutions in Afghanistan.

The members of the US delegation said that US administration would continue to provide all possible help to the Government in overcoming its difficulties.
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