Pak may grant immunity to American facing twin-murder charge

Pak appears set to grant immunity to Raymond Davis, facing a double murder charge following intense pressure from US.

Islamabad: Pakistan government appears set to
grant immunity to a US consulate employee facing a double
murder charge following intense pressure from Washington,
which has limited its bilateral interaction with Islamabad
over the issue, media reports said on Sunday.

Besides the pressure from the US administration, the
government`s stance was influenced by a message from
Pakistan`s Ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani, who urged
Islamabad to grant immunity to the American national "at the
earliest," the Dawn newspaper quoted unnamed sources as

The lack of patience in the US over the case of Raymond
Davis -- who was arrested in Lahore after he shot and killed
two youths who he claimed were trying to rob him -- was
conveyed to President Asif Ali Zardari by Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton during a recent telephone call, another daily
The News said.

Clinton reportedly sought the release from "illegal
custody" of Davis.

This was the highest level of interaction between the two
states on the matter that has emerged as a fresh irritant in
US-Pakistan ties, The News reported.

The President`s office did not confirm whether Zardari
spoke with Clinton on this issue.

Pakistan has rebuffed repeated calls from the US to
release Davis on the ground that he enjoys diplomatic
immunity, and top leaders, including President Asif Ali
Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, have said the
American`s case will be decided in court.

However, the US is not ready to buy this line of defence,
media reports said.

Ambassador Haqqani reportedly urged the government to
grant immunity to Davis after the US State Department
"virtually snapped all communication" with the embassy in

A cable from the Washington embassy "clearly warned that
the diplomatic stand-off with the US was likely to grow more
intense with each passing day," the Dawn reported.

The cable reportedly conveyed the strong sentiments in
Washington and said the US "could go all out to get Davis

Media reports from the US too quoted unnamed Pakistani
officials as saying that they expect Davis to be freed "in
days" after a Pakistani court examines documents the US has
submitted to prove his diplomatic status.

A visiting US delegation with representatives from the
House Armed Services Committee reportedly told Prime Minister
Gilani on Friday that it might be difficult for the panel to
approve military aid and arms supply to Pakistan as long as
Davis remained in detention.

Besides the two men gunned down by Davis, a third
Pakistani was killed by a speeding US consulate vehicle that
was going to aid the American.

The deaths have caused outrage at a time when anti-US
sentiments are on the increase in Pakistan.

Though the US initially claimed Davis was a Lahore
consulate staffer and later declared he was assigned to the
Islamabad embassy, he was carrying an ID showing that he
worked for the US consulate in Peshawar at the time of his
arrest, the Dawn reported.

Investigators also confirmed that he had a military
background and was posted with the US Regional Affairs Office,
which is linked by many analysts to the CIA.

A US Department of Veteran Affairs card and Department of
Defence contractor card were also in the possession of Davis.

The contract document revealed that he was on an annual
contract with a fee of USD 200,000.

US officials have also contended that Davis` case would
have been speedily resolved if Pakistan`s Foreign Office had
issued certification to him when requested and in time.

The Foreign Office is reportedly denying certification to
Davis and thus prolonging the case.

"The certification at this stage is needed from the
Foreign Office because we have a US citizen who is detained
and this certification has to be sent to the Punjab government
for immunity and release of the US citizen. We want to resolve
this matter," said acting US embassy spokesperson Courtney