Foreign mission staff in Pak have diplomatic immunity: Wahab

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Rezaul H Laskar

Islamabad, Feb 14 (PTI) All diplomats, technical andadministrative staff of foreign missions in Pakistan haveimmunity under the Vienna Convention and the US officialarrested for shooting and killing two men in Lahore is noexception, a spokesperson for the ruling Pakistan People''sParty said today.

PPP leader Fauzia Wahab made the remarks whileinteracting with the media at the Karachi Press Club.

However, she said she was making the remarks in apersonal capacity.

Pakistan is a signatory to the Vienna Convention andhas its own law of 1972 on the privileges of diplomats andaccording to these regulations, all diplomats have "immunityfrom detention and from arrest," she said.

"The technical and administrative staff (of foreignmissions) also have immunity," she added.

Wahab said Raymond Davis � the US official arrestedin Lahore last month after he gunned down two men he claimedwere trying to rob him � had an "official business visa".

Arguing over his status could put Pakistan''s "overallgood reputation with the rest of the world" at risk, shecontended. Pakistan has to handle Davis'' case with care as theUS is the largest provider of aid to the country, she said.

The US is the biggest market for Pakistani productsthat generates revenues of USD 4 billion and a large number ofPakistanis live there, she said.

Asked about former Foreign Minister Shah MahmoodQureshi''s reported claim that he refused to grant a diplomaticvisa to Davis, Wahab said Qureshi had violated the PPP''sdiscipline by making such claims.

Washington''s relations with Islamabad have hit a newlow after Pakistani leaders rejected several US demands forDavis to be freed on the ground that he enjoys diplomaticimmunity.

Reports have suggested that the PPP decided not toreallocate the foreign affairs portfolio to Qureshi during arecent shake-up of the cabinet as he was opposed to grantingimmunity to Davis.

Pakistani police have rejected Davis'' claim ofacting in self-defence and accused him of murder in an interimcharge-sheet.

The government too is under pressure to put Davis ontrial due to rising anti-American sentiments in the country.

The US has put off high-level talks with Afghanistanand Pakistan following the failure of attempts to free Davis.

American lawmakers have threatened to cut civil andmilitary aid to Pakistan.

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