Pak may grant immunity to American facing twin-murder charge

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Rezaul H Laskar

Islamabad, Feb 6 (PTI) Pakistan government appears set togrant immunity to a US consulate employee facing a doublemurder charge following intense pressure from Washington,which has limited its bilateral interaction with Islamabadover the issue, media reports said today.

Besides the pressure from the US administration, thegovernment''s stance was influenced by a message fromPakistan''s Ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani, who urgedIslamabad to grant immunity to the American national "at theearliest," the Dawn newspaper quoted unnamed sources assaying.

The lack of patience in the US over the case of RaymondDavis -- who was arrested in Lahore after he shot and killedtwo youths who he claimed were trying to rob him -- wasconveyed to President Asif Ali Zardari by Secretary of StateHillary Clinton during a recent telephone call, another dailyThe News said.

Clinton reportedly sought the release from "illegalcustody" of Davis.

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

The President''s office did not confirm whether Zardarispoke with Clinton on this issue.

Pakistan has rebuffed repeated calls from the US torelease Davis on the ground that he enjoys diplomaticimmunity, and top leaders, including President Asif AliZardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, have said theAmerican''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 togrant immunity to Davis after the US State Department"virtually snapped all communication" with the embassy inWashington.

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

The cable reportedly conveyed the strong sentiments inWashington and said the US "could go all out to get Davisrelease".

Media reports from the US too quoted unnamed Pakistaniofficials as saying that they expect Davis to be freed "indays" after a Pakistani court examines documents the US hassubmitted to prove his diplomatic status. (More) PTI RHLKIM AKJ

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