US mounts pressure on Pakistan to release 'illegally detained' murder-accused diplomat

Islamabad, Feb 8(ANI): As the United States continues with its efforts to free its double murder-accused diplomat Raymond Davis, its requests to Pakistan in this regard have now turned into veiled threats.

If the case is not wrapped up quickly and Davis is not set free from "illegal detention" by authorities in Lahore, then even President Asif Ali Zardari might not be welcome in Washington on a state visit as already planned, The News reports.

After the earful that Zardari had to hear from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the telephone a few days ago on the matter, US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter called on the president on Monday.

The Presidency spokesman thought it fit to issue just a one-liner about the meeting, saying "Pak-US bilateral relations were discussed during the meeting".

However US Embassy spokesperson Courtney Beale revealed that during the meeting, "Ambassador Munter once again reiterated that the US citizen was being illegally detained and that he enjoys diplomatic immunities under the Vienna Convention of Diplomatic Relations (1961)."

Munter, as has been the US stance, once again asked Pakistan to abide by its obligations under the international and Pakistani laws and immediately release Davis.

"The US citizen's continued detention is a gross violation of the international law. Our stand has not changed", added Beale.

Meanwhile, sources in the Punjab government confirm that on his return from Thimphu on February 9, Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir will be finalising the status of Davis as well confirming whether the accused was attached with the US Embassy in Islamabad or the US Consulate in Lahore.

"The foreign secretary, who is handling the Raymond Davis case himself, will be informing the US Embassy in Islamabad and the Lahore High Court on these two vital issues. He will do this well before February 17, which is the cut-off date given by the Lahore High Court. Already, the matter has been delayed and the court will proceed ahead after this vital information from the federal government," an official was quoted, as saying.

According to the report, when approached, US Embassy spokesperson Beale said that at the time the US citizen was working at the Lahore Consulate, but that this diplomat was assigned to the US Embassy.

Earlier, a February 3 statement from the US Embassy said: "The US government notified the Government of Pakistan on January 20, 2010 that the American diplomat was assigned to the US Embassy in Islamabad as a member of the administrative and technical staff."

It is understood that Davis would enjoy greater immunity if he were attached to the US Embassy rather than the US Consulate. (ANI)

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