Davis affair cost Qureshi his job: Pakistani daily

Last Updated: Tue, Feb 15, 2011 08:00 hrs

Islamabad, Feb 15 (IANS) The refusal of Shah Mahmood Qureshi to 'recognise Raymond Davis as a diplomat or accord him immunity ultimately cost him his job' as the foreign minister, a Pakistani daily said Tuesday.

An editorial in the News International Tuesday said: 'An incident on a Lahore street in which three people died, two shot and one crushed to death, has sparked a chain of events that have increasing regional and international gravity.'

'The Davis affair's latest casualty in purely human terms is...Shah Mahmood Qureshi, whose refusal to recognise Davis as a diplomat or accord him immunity ultimately cost him his job. Qureshi's principled stand earned him the disapproval of Hilary Clinton who wanted his head on a plate - and got it.'

Davis shot dead two Pakistani men on a motorcycle on a Lahore street Jan 27 after they allegedly brandished weapons. Some reports say the two were Pakistani intelligence operatives tailing him. The American has said he fired in self-defence because he thought the two were robbers.

The incident led to a third death when a speeding US consulate vehicle coming to the rescue of Davis overran another motorcyclist. US officials have threatened to cut off the $1.5 billion in annual aid to Pakistan if Davis was not released and Washington has put bilateral contacts with Islamabad on hold.

The editorial said: 'And then there is the silence of the drones. It may be purely by coincidence or it may not, but there has not been an attack by drones anywhere in Pakistan since Davis was arrested. The last such attack was Jan 23. Davis was arrested Jan 27.'

'Could it be that somebody in the US administration worked out that continuing the drone strikes was going to make a bad situation even worse,' the editorial wondered.

It went on to say that the 'highest-profile casualty may be the meeting between President (Asif Ali) Zardari and President (Barack) Obama'.

'It will be remembered that Obama made a commitment to inviting Zardari to Washington after he chose not to visit Pakistan before or after his recent trip to India. A failure to offer a date to Zardari would be the diplomatic equivalent of having a shoe thrown at you.'

It observed that Davis issue was increasingly becoming 'toxic'.