Qureshi blames US for his exit from Pakistan''s cabinet

M ZulqernainLahore, Feb 24 (PTI) Former foreign minister ShahMahmood Qureshi today held the US responsible for his exitfrom Pakistan''s cabinet in the wake of a diplomatic rowbetween the two countries over the arrest of an Americanfunctionary who shot and killed two men last month.

"I was supposed to sit with my American andAfghanistan counterparts in Washington in tripartite talksstarting today. I am not part of that because I took aprincipled stance on Raymond Davis'' issue," he said whileinteracting with journalists here.

Qureshi was referring to the US national arrestedafter he gunned down two armed men in Lahore on January 27.

Police have rejected Davis'' claim that he acted inself-defence when the two men tried to rob him and haveaccused him of murder.

Pakistani leaders have said Davis'' case will bedecided by the courts and rejected US demands to free him ongrounds of diplomatic immunity.

Qureshi skipped the swearing-in ceremony for the newcabinet earlier this month after he learnt that his PakistanPeople''s Party had decided not to reallocate the foreignaffairs portfolio to him.

Reports have said Qureshi''s decision not to go alongwith the PPP''s plans to give diplomatic immunity to Davisresulted in his ouster from the Foreign Ministry.

Qureshi has insisted that the Foreign Office''s recordsshowed Davis was not entitled to "blanket immunity".

Qureshi said that after the Foreign Office briefed himon Davis'' diplomatic status, he informed the leadership of theUS and the PPP about the matter.

"It was decided between US authorities and me thatAmerica will contest the case in a Pakistani court, andthereafter I was stripped of my portfolio," he said.

"I made it clear that if Pakistan needs America, theUS also needs Pakistan," he said.

Qureshi further sought to take credit for raising theissue of differences over sharing river waters with IndianPrime Minister Manmohan Singh.

"I told Mr Singh that, being an economist, he shouldunderstand the important linkage between water and an agrarianeconomy. The water issue should be given an important place inparleys between the two countries, otherwise in futurerelations will further deteriorate instead of improving," hesaid.

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