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ہفتہ، 5 فروری، 2011

Releasing Raymond Davis may repeat Egyptian scenario in Pakistan

Interview with political observer at the English language Pakistani News International newspaper Ahmed Quraishi.
There are a lot of reports on the Raymond Davis case. Do you see any speedy solutions of this issue now?
Chances for a speedy solution may not exist now because yesterday there was a meeting between the three top leaders of the country - the army chief, the prime minister and the president - and they agreed to let the Pakistani court deal with Raymond Davis. As for a speedy resolution that the US State Department has been requesting to release Mr. Davis will not be possible now. The full procedure of the law will take place before any resolution is found for this case.
Some believe that Pakistan is thus walking a tightrope because it may infuriate Washington.
It is a very-very tight rope. You cannot even begin to imagine this. We have an elected government in Pakistan whose president and interior minister are on record, according to US cables leaked by the WikiLeaks website. They’ve been telling the US ambassador and US officials here that this elected government really relies on Washington’s support and protection against local opponents and the strong Pakistani military. We have a government here in Islamabad that is completely dependent on Washington and now that it is facing this kind of a situation, it is trying its best to get Mr. Raymond Davis released. Initially, they try to put forward this excuse that he held a diplomatic passport and there is no other option but to release him. But unfortunately, other departments within their own government, for example the foreign Ministry, were completely against releasing Mr. Davis, and of course the Pakistani public opinion in the media also came down heavily on this elected government. This government, although it did not want to do this, it had no other option but to let the legal process take its course. It is a very difficult situation for this government in front of their strong supporters in Washington. It is a very tough situation.
There were reports about the growing anti-American feelings. Some of them said the crowd was ready to encircle the presidential palace and the US embassy. Do you think there can be some eruptions of more demonstrations?
The demonstrations are taking place regularly. Yesterday, a press conference at the location where Mr. Davis killed three Pakistanis was held by the families of those killed. They reveled for the first time that the Pakistani government and the US embassy here offered them green cards and a lot of money, that they refused the offer and that there was a lot of pressure on them to pardon Mr. Davis. And, of course, there have been demonstrations that you mentioned - every day ever since it all happened almost 6 days ago. I think the Pakistani public opinion is satisfied for now that the legal court is taking place and the Pakistani government will not somehow smuggle Mr. Davis out of the country as the US embassy is demanding. But if the Pakistani government takes the decision and tries to avoid a legal process and release this gentleman, there will be a huge problem. For the first time the Pakistani commentators say that if that happens, it might spark protests in Pakistan similar to those you witness in other Middle Eastern countries, like Egypt. 
Is the judicial community firm enough to oppose the American pressure?
Yes. for the first time in maybe 40 or 50 years we have a judicial set that is very strong and confident and yes, it can stand up to foreign pressure, more than the Pakistani political elite and the military.
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