Now, Obama personally demands release of murder accused American from Pak

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

WASHINGTON - For the first time, US President Barack Obama has publicly spoken on the US-Pak diplomatic row over double murder-accused American official Raymond Davis’ detention in Lahore, insisting that Pakistan must recognize Davis as a diplomat and release him on the grounds of diplomatic immunity.

“With respect to Mr. Davis, our diplomat in Pakistan, we’ve got a very simple principle here that every country in the world that is party to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations is-has upheld in the past and should uphold in the future, and that is if our diplomats are in another country, then they are not subject to that country’s local prosecution,” said Obama at a press conference in Washington.

“We respect it with respect to diplomats who are here. We expect Pakistan, that’s a signatory and recognize Mr. Davis as a diplomat, to abide by the same convention,” he added.

Obama also rejected the suggestion that the US demand to release Davis showed its insensitivity towards others’ lives.

“For those who aren’t familiar with the background on this, a couple of Pakistanis were killed in a incident between Mr. Davis in Pakistan. So obviously, we’re concerned about the loss of life. We’re not callous about that. But there’s a broader principle at stake that I think we have to uphold,” he maintained.

Obama said the United States was going to continue “to work with the Pakistani government to get this person released.”

When asked “How serious have your threats been to the Pakistani government if they don’t hand him over?” the US president replied: “Well, I’m not going to discuss the specific exchanges that we’ve had. But we’ve been very firm about this being an important priority.”

The Davis detention issue seems to be taking its toll on US-Pak relations, which were already strained over stepped-up drone strikes in Pakistan’s militant-infested tribal region and disagreements over the war in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Earlier this week, the Obama administration had dispatched Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John F. Kerry to Pakistan to try to “help tone down the rhetoric and reaffirm the US partnership with Pakistan,” in the wake of the Davis detention issue.

It is noteworthy that US Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Philip J. Crowley had said during a press briefing that the US will “present a petition to the court” on Thursday to “certify that he [Davis] has diplomatic immunity and that he should be released.” (ANI)

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