Pak media denounce "blood money" deal

The deal hammered out by the US and Pakistan to free CIA contractor Raymond Davis, arrested for gunning down two men.

Islamabad: The deal hammered out by the
US and Pakistan to free CIA contractor Raymond Davis, arrested
for gunning down two men, has not addressed larger issues that
are causing friction in the ties between the two allies in the
war on terror, the Pakistani media said on Thursday.

Davis, a 36-year-old former Special Forces soldier
who shot and killed two armed men in Lahore on January 27, was
acquitted and freed by a Pakistani court yesterday after
families of the victims pardoned him following a "blood money"
deal of about Rs 20 crore.

Pakistan`s Inter-Services Intelligence agency and the
CIA are believed to have played a key role in negotiating the

Despite the resolution of the diplomatic row that
had taken Pakistan-US ties to a new low, The News daily said
in an editorial that a "raft of questions remains unanswered"
and there was a "trust deficit of cosmic proportions not
just between the US and Pakistan but also between the people
of Pakistan and `their` state".

The crucial issue of whether Davis had diplomatic
immunity had not been addressed and the "ambiguity that now
hangs in the air leaves the door open for similar opaque
arrangements to that" which allowed Davis to operate in
Pakistan, the editorial said.

Headlines in newspapers reflected the anger in
Pakistani society over Davis` release.

"CIA killer walks free!" said the headline in The
News while the Dawn, in a reference to the "blood money" deal
under Islamic laws, headlined its report: "Davis buys his
flight to freedom".

The release of Davis was "inevitable" and it was
only a matter of time before he was freed "given Pakistan`s
dependence on the US, in particular for military aid", The
Express Tribune newspaper said in its editorial.

It said the "murky nature of Davis`s diplomatic
status has to be shared equally" by Pakistan and the US.

While the US needs Pakistan in the war on terror, it
"should be accepted that the balance of relations is tilted
quite heavily in America`s favour", the Tribune said.

"Had this incident happened between, say, China and
America or even India and America, the result may have been
different," it said.

"Our leverage with the US is practically non-existent
precisely because we are heavily reliant on it for financial
assistance, military aid and even for aid from the IMF, given
that Washington exercises massive influence over its lending
priorities," the editorial said.

There are "plenty of lessons" to be learned for
Pakistan and the US as it appeared as if the alliance between
the two countries might have been affected by the actions of
one man, the editorial said.

"To prevent a repeat occurrence, the overall
mechanism or system under which agents similar to Raymond
Davis operate inside Pakistan may need to be re-examined and
perhaps the standard operating procedure overhauled so that
such an incident does not happen again," it said.

The News, in its editorial, said Davis` case was a
"textbook example of how not to conduct diplomacy" and that
there "must be a certain irony that both sides were apparently
saved from further embarrassment by Shariah law".

Davis was flown out of Pakistan on a special US
aircraft shortly after he was freed by the court in Lahore.

The US has contended that it had not made any payment
for his release but media reports suggested that Washington
would reimburse Islamabad for the payments made for the "blood
money" deal under the Qisas and Diyat Law.