ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and the United States are heading to a diplomatic row over the killing of two Pakistani nationals by an American national known as Raymond Davis in Lahore last week. Raymond Davis, an employee of the American Consulate in Lahore, shot dead two Pakistanis on Jan. 27, claiming that he had killed two Pakistanis 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. Another Pakistani was crushed to death by the U.S. consulate car, when it arrived at the scene for Davis help.
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, the capital of Punjab province, who is now being questioned for his action and activity in the city ‘s busiest area.
Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani also made a statement about the issue as it now a major hot subject in Pakistan and the Prime Minister said that 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. Pakistani leading Dawn newspaper paper, citing a ABC news report as saying on Monday that Davis was associated with a private security firm.
Shooting to death of two 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 American 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.-Xinua