US diplomat''s case: Victims'' families backtrack on commitment

M Zulqernain

Lahore, Feb 2 (PTI) Families of two alleged robbers shotand killed by a US diplomat today backtracked on a commitmentthat they would be amenable to the American being swapped forAafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist sentenced to 86years in prison in the United States for terror links.

The families of the men gunned down by US consulateemployee Raymond Davis demanded the registration of a caseunder the Anti-Terrorism Act against the American.

"We will not allow the government to hand over Davis tothe US," a relative of Muhammad Fahim, one of the two men whodied in the shooting incident in Lahore last week, said at anews conference here.

The families announced they would organise a rally to theUS consulate in Lahore to register their protest.

On Monday, Fahim''s father Shamshad Ali had said thatDavis could be handed over to the US if American authoritiesreleased Siddiqui and withdrew the charges against her.

"They (US authorities) should release Aafia or see Davishanged," he had then said, rejecting all other options,including monetary compensation.

A US court sentenced Siddiqui last year to 86 years inprison after convicting her for shooting at FBI agents andAmerican soldiers while in custody in Afghanistan.

Several Pakistani political leaders and parliamentarianshave suggested that Davis, arrested after he shot and killedtwo men, who he claimed were trying to rob him, should beswapped for Siddiqui.

In a related development, Interior Minister Rehman Maliktold the Senate or upper house of Parliament today that Daviswould be treated according to Pakistani laws.

"The law will take its course and no favour will be donewith the accused," he said responding to several point oforders raised by Senators.

Noting that Davis holds a diplomatic passport, Malik saidfederal and provincial governments will not hinder courtproceedings against Davis.

"We will follow whatever the court says and will provideall information desired by the court regarding the case of theUS citizen involved in the killing of two Pakistanis," hesaid.

Davis'' name was included in the Exit Control List, a listof persons barred from travelling out of Pakistan, inaccordance with an order issued by the Lahore High Court,Malik said.

He said holding an open debate on this "sensitive issue"would be inappropriate as it could influence the investigationbeing conducted by Punjab Police.

He also dispelled the impression that the federalgovernment was interfering in the matter.

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