No decision yet to hand over Davis to US: Babar
ISLAMABAD: The government said on Sunday it had not yet decided to hand over to the US authorities American citizen Raymond Davis accused of gunning down two young men in Lahore on Thursday.
“It is wrong to say that at this stage the government has decided to send Davis to the US,” said president’s spokesman Farhatullah Babar in a statement. “The government will not sit quiet on the shooting of our nationals,” he said.
Mr Babar added: “The law will take its own course and investigations are still going on. Legal process will be observed and respected.”
Pakistan Muslim League-N chief Nawaz Sharif whose party heads the coalition government in Punjab is reported to have told the US that he and the provincial government could not do anything because the matter was in court.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik refused to comment on the issue, saying he was waiting for the court’s decision. “The matter is sub judice and we should wait for the Punjab government’s report,” he said.
The US embassy in Islamabad has claimed that Davis enjoys diplomatic immunity because he was a member of its technical staff.
According to diplomatic observers here, the issue is becoming complex because the government says it will await the court decision while the US embassy insists that the accused enjoys diplomatic immunity.
Meanwhile, DawnNews said on Sunday that the passport of Davis showed that his name was Raymond Alan Davis and he did not have diplomatic visa but he came to Pakistan on an official/business visa.
According to the passport, he had visited the country nine times and his last Pakistani visa was issued in June last year for two years.
Earlier, the US government claimed that Raymond Davis was not the real name of the accused but refused to say what his name was.
One statement issued by the US embassy described the accused as a staff member of the US Consulate General in Lahore, while another said he was a staff member of the US embassy in Islamabad. And yet another statement issued on Sunday said he was a member of the technical staff of the embassy.
The embassy claimed that under Article 37 of the Vienna Convention, Davis had diplomatic immunity.
It is being said here that the ministry of interior should know the actual identity of the accused and whether or not he was a diplomat.
Davis has also been accused of being on a covert assignment in Pakistan, but ambiguity will remain till the government and the US authorities come up with the factual details about the accused and the Lahore incident.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior, Senator Talha Mehmood, demanded at a press conference that the government should make the US personnel an example for wrongdoers.
“The government has to take a strong stand to give exemplary punishment to the US commando for killing innocent people,” he said.
He warned that the heads of all the organisations concerned would be called by the senate committee for questioning if the government showed any leniency in the case.
Doubts on stay
Diplomatic sources in Islamabad said that Raymond Davis had first received a three-month diplomatic visa on a diplomatic passport on request of the US State Department in September 2009. That is the only visa issued to him by the Pakistan embassy in Washington.
On that occasion, the State Department had said Davis would be visiting Pakistan for a short term as a technical adviser. Subsequently, Davis received extensions to his visa in Islamabad or elsewhere.
His presence in Pakistan after the expiry of his first visa in December 2009 was neither known to nor authorised by the Pakistan embassy in Washington or the Foreign Office.