US, Pak working on 'out of the box' solution to Davis detention standoff

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Islamabad, Feb 20(ANI): The United States has revived its high-level engagement with Pakistan after keeping it suspended for almost a fortnight over the diplomatic immunity issue of double murder-accused American official Raymond Davis.

Observers have interpreted the resumption of contacts as an attempt by the US to tone down the rhetoric, so that prospects for a settlement through blood money or some other 'out of the box solution' get a boost, the Dawn reports.

However, pressure from extremist and rightwing political groups on the bereaved families of the two Pakistani men shot by Davis for spurning any compensation offer remains the sticking point, even though both sides have largely agreed to work together towards ending the ominous stalemate, according to sources.

The resumption of contacts was marked by the visit of a 'junior' US Congressional delegation led by Senator Robert Corker, a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Other legislators in his delegation included members of the committees on armed services and budget.

In an important development, the Americans have reaffirmed their commitment to deliver on the pledges for economic and security assistance.

The reset in Pak-US ties, which many had believed to have reached their nadir during the diplomatic spat over immunity for Davis, followed a visit to Islamabad last week by US Senator John Kerry, whose trip was described by both sides as a "relationship saving" mission.

Things now appear to be moving according to the step-by-step approach agreed between the two sides during Kerry's visit.

The Americans realise that some 'out of the box' solution would have to be found for an issue that had taken to its peak an already high anti-Americanism in Pakistan, the source said.

"The government's request for more time from the Lahore High Court to testify on Davis's status is meant to buy more space for the US to settle the issue with the heirs of the victims," the source added.

Although it looks very clear that after weeks of standoff, both countries are now seriously trying to defuse the situation, circles close to the government are wary of the position taken by right-wingers and militant groups in this regard.

During Kerry's visit to Pakistan, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had floated the idea of settling the dispute through blood money, and efforts had been initiated in that direction, the report said.

But right wing political groups and militant elements are now creating hurdles by pressuring the bereaved families to insist on Davis's trial and reject any compensation offer, it added. (ANI)

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