Pak Govt has decided to grant Davis diplomatic immunity to end row with US: Official

Thursday, February 17, 2011

ISLAMABAD - The Pakistan Government has decided to grant diplomatic immunity to double murder-accused US official Raymond Davis, a high-ranking government official has said.

The detained American’s fate, however, will eventually be decided by a Pakistani court in Lahore, where he faces murder charges over the January 27 incident.

“I have every hope the court will base its proceedings on our opinion. If he is immune from prosecution because we have recognized him as a diplomat, then a prosecution in Pakistan will be difficult,” CBS News quoted the senior official, as saying on the condition of anonymity.

A second Pakistani official also confirmed that the government had decided to grant immunity to Davis.

“I realize this is a very, very tough decision which is bound to provoke strong reaction on the streets of Pakistan,” said the official, adding, “Opponents of the (Pakistani) government will denounce the grant of immunity as a sell-out of national honour.”

“Our leaders have decided Pakistan’s relations with the US cannot be allowed to derail because of this episode,” the official explained.

On Tuesday, US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John F. Kerry flew into Pakistan for meetings with the country’s leaders as the Obama administration raised pressure on Islamabad to release Davis on the grounds of diplomatic immunity.

While the US- and Kerry himself- insisted that his Pakistan trip was “to reaffirm US support for the strategic relationship between the two countries,” but Pakistani officials said that his visit was primarily to do with Davis.

“We recognize Senator Kerry as a friend and supporter of Pakistan. He is indeed here to help find a resolution to the Raymond Davis issue,” said the high-ranking Pakistani official.

Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani has candidly admitted that his government is “just caught between the devil and the deep sea” on the Davis issue. “We are facing difficult decisions. There is a political price. If we take it then the people do not support and if we don’t do it the world does not support,” he said. (ANI)

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