US turns down Pak Govt’s offer to trade terror-suspect Aafia for CIA contractor Davis

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

WASHINGTON - The Pakistan Government offered to trade double murder-accused CIA contractor Raymond Davis with Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui, who is suspected by US intelligence to be an al Qaeda operative and is currently serving 86 years in federal prison for attempted murder.

According to a senior US administration official and a Pakistani official involved in the negotiations to free Davis, the Pakistan Government proposed trading the American for Aafia, but the US government immediately dismissed the offer.

“The Pakistanis have raised it. We are not going to pursue it,” ABC News quoted the US official, as saying.

The proposal is the latest in a series of efforts to break an impasse between Washington and Islamabad over Davis, who has been detained by Pakistan authorities since late January for shooting dead two men, allegedly in self-defence.

On the other hand, Aafia was convicted of trying to shoot FBI agents and military officers in an Afghanistan police station in 2008.

In 2004, FBI director Robert Mueller described Aafia as an “al Qaeda operative and facilitator.” The FBI had issued a global alert for Aafia and her first husband in 2003, for their suspected ties to al Qaeda. Aafia later remarried to an al Qaeda operative, who was the nephew of the 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Muhammed and is currently being detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

According to the Pakistani official, the Pakistan Government’s proposal called for Aafia to be transferred to Pakistan, where she would serve the remainder of her sentence in a jail or under house arrest.

According to the senior administration official and a Pakistani official, the US government quickly made it clear to Pakistan that they would not entertain the possibility of trading Aafia for Davis.

But there is still hope for a resolution despite the apparent impasse. Pakistani officials in both Lahore and Islamabad said that Davis’ release was just a “matter of time,” and that the Pakistan Government was waiting for the public furore over the case to wane before releasing him.

A Pakistani official said that one likely outcome would be that the US government would pay reparations to the victims’ families, who can pardon Davis under Pakistan law if asked. (ANI)

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