Wait till court decides on Raymond Davis: Pakistan tells US

Last Updated: Sat, Feb 12, 2011 19:24 hrs

Islamabad: The Pakistan government Saturday made it clear it will wait for the court's decision in the case involving US official Raymond Davis, arrested for killing two Pakistanis, despite repeated pleas for his deportation to America.

'The government is not going to bow before any pressure. All these rumours that we are trying to tamper the record of Davis case are absolutely baseless,' Interior Minister Rehman Malik told reporters.

Davis, an official with the US diplomatic mission in Pakistan, was arrested Jan 27 after he shot dead two youths in Lahore. He claimed to have acted on self-defence as the two were trying to rob him.

The incident led to the death of a third Pakistani who came under the vehicle which arrived at the scene to help Davis escape from the spot.

'All my statements in this case are based on facts and we are awaiting the verdict of the court,' Malik said.

The minister also clarified that his administration has not asked for the passport of Davis and 'it is still with the investigation agencies of Punjab government'.

Newly-appointed Information Minister, Firdous Ashiq Awan, said: 'The government will follow the directions of the court in this case. We are a sovereign country and there is no point that US or any other external forces can arm-twist us into doing something.'

Pakistani Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir said: 'The foreign office had witnessed no pressure from either the government or the US in the high-profile case.'

'It will not be advisable on part of the US to severe ties with Pakistan on such a matter,' Bashir said Saturday.

'If a diplomat commits such a crime, he does not automatically become eligible for diplomatic immunity,' he observed. 'If I had been in place of Davis, I would have been ashamed to claim diplomatic immunity in such a situation.'

Carmella Conroy, principal officer of the US consulate in Lahore in a statement Friday night advocated the immediate release of Davis on diplomatic grounds. 

Asked about the joint statement issued after the recent meeting in Thimphu that referred to the Mumbai attacks and made no mention of Pakistan's concerns on the Samjhauta Express bombing and the insurgency in Balochistan, Bashir said this did not mean that Islamabad could not raise these issues with New Delhi.

"It is in Pakistan's interest to have under the rubric of counter-terrorism a special focus on the Mumbai attacks. It does not preclude or exclude anything else, he said.

Terrorism is "a much wider issue than Mumbai" and is not germaine to Pakistan, he added.

"We have nothing to hide. If at all we want to really expose the reality behind terrorism, whether it is in Afghanistan, Pakistan or other countries," he said.

Referring to the situation in Afghanistan, Bashir said he had told his Indian counterpart Nirupama Rao that the "worst thing that can happen to Afghanistan and this region is if India-Pakistan rivalry is superimposed on the already very complex situation there".

He indicated Pakistan was open to the prospect of a "dialogue or partnership" on the issue of Afghanistan.

However, all of Afghanistan's neighbours and the international community must respect the "sovereignty, political independence and unity and territorial integrity of Afghanistan" as well as the "principle of non-interference and non-intervention in the affairs of Afghanistan", he said.

"No formula (for addressing the situation in Afghanistan) will be successful unless these principles are adhered to in good faith," he said.

Pakistan has "serious concerns over the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan" and a "legitimate interest" in the neighbouring country's stability and peace, he added.

The peace process in Afghanistan, including those initiated by President Hamid Karzai, would be successful if the Afghan people take ownership of them, Bashir said.

Bashir described as a "positive sign" the decision to resume the dialogue process with India, promising to play the role of a "game changer". However, he advocated lots of patience in dealing with difficult and complex issues confronting the two countries.

The decision to resume the Indo-Pak dialogue "is a positive sign", the top diplomat said.

"We are dealing with difficult and complex issues... Lots of patience and determination is required," he said.

"We will play the role of a game-changer," Bashir said.

The Rao-Bashir meeting in Thimphu on Sunday had come six months after the failed round of talks between External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Islamabad.

The composite dialogue between the two sides was put on hold after 10 Pakistani terrorists carried out coordinated attacks in Mumbai in November 2008, killing 166 people. Before entering into talks with Pakistan again, India wanted the perpetrators of the attack to be speedily brought to justice.