PPP divided over immunity to American official

Rezaul H Laskar

Islamabad, Feb 14 (PTI) Leaders of the ruling PakistanPeople''s Party today presented divergent views on whether a USofficial arrested for gunning down two men had diplomaticimmunity, with a federal minister saying that his status wouldbe decided in court.

Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan said thegovernment had made it very clear that the case of US nationalRaymond Davis would be decided by Pakistani courts.

"Whether Raymond Davis, who has been accused ofmurdering two Pakistanis in Lahore, has immunity or not willbe decided by the courts and we will follow the verdict," shesaid. Pakistan''s judiciary works independently and itsdecision will be accepted, she said.

"No individual can grant immunity to anyone.

The courts in Pakistan are free and independent andthey will decide the matter," she said in an interview with aTV news channel.

Earlier in the day, PPP spokesperson Fauzia Wahabsaid during an interaction with reporters at the Karachi PressClub that all diplomats and technical and administrative staffof foreign missions have immunity under the Vienna Conventionand Davis is no exception.

Wahab also said Pakistan will have to handle thecase of Davis with care as the US is the largest provider ofaid to Pakistan and the biggest market for Pakistani products.

Asked about Wahab''s statement on Davis, InformationMinister Awan said that was her "personal opinion which doesnot reflect the stance of the government".

Davis'' case is in the court and people should avoidissuing statements on the issue, she said.

Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar too saidDavis'' case was in court and Wahab''s statement did not reflectthe policies of the government and the PPP. .

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