Davis booked for murder, US-Pak stand-off intensifies

Written by: Pti
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Lahore/Islamabad, Feb 11: The tense stand off between the US and Pakistan intensified today as the Lahore police charged American official Raymond Davis of "cold-blooded" murder, ignoring pressure from Washington for his immediate release.

The tussle became murkier as an American channel reported that Obama's National Security Advisor Tom Donilon threatened to "kick out" the Pakistan envoy Hussain Haqqani, if Islamabad failed to release Davis by Friday.

But later, both Haqqani and a US embassy spokesperson in Pakistan termed the report as inaccurate.

Davis who was arrested for shooting down and killing two Pakistanis, was remanded to a further 14 days of judicial custody by a court till the next hearing on Feb 25.

The stand-off between Pakistan and the US over Davis, who Washington says enjoys diplomatic immunity, has taken the already tense relationship between the two countries to a new low.

The US has suspended all high-level contacts with Pakistan and reports have suggested they will not be resumed till Davis is freed. But, top Pakistani leaders have so far rebuffed US demands for Davis to be freed, saying the matter will be decided in court according to the country's laws.

US lawmakers have also warned that the matter could affect American civil and military aid to Pakistan running into billion of dollars.

Davis was brought to the judicial magistrate's court in Model Town area of Lahore in an armoured vehicle amidst tight security today.

In an apparent attempt to confuse a large number of local and foreign journalists tracking the movements of Davis, police sent two armoured vehicles to as many courts.

Shortly after the court gave its order, Davis was taken to Kot Lakhpat jail. Authorities had recently made special arrangements for him at the prison.

Earlier, Davis was presented before the judicial magistrate on Jan 28, when he was remanded to police custody till Feb 3. The remand was subsequently extended till Feb 11.

A report in the News daily said today that the Punjab government will deploy multiple security cordons, including that of Rangers, in the Kot Lakhpat Jail "to pre-empt a possible Hollywood Rambo-style sting operation by the US forces to get Raymond Davis released."


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