The Pakistani leadership on Monday was one in maintaining that the law must take its own course in the case of the U.S. Embassy functionary who is in police custody for shooting down two persons “in self-defence'' at a traffic intersection in Lahore last Thursday.
This refrain from the federal and provincial leadership came hours after the U.S. mounted a fresh defence of its contention that “Raymond Davis” was a diplomat and, therefore, entitled to diplomatic immunity. In a late night clarification on Sunday, the U.S. Embassy asserted that Article 37 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations extends criminal immunity that diplomats have to members of the “technical and administrative staff” of an embassy.
This clarification was issued in the wake of reports suggesting that the Pakistan Foreign Office records do not have “Raymond Davis” registered as a diplomat. The Foreign Office records show the person by this name as a technician.
According to the latest U.S. statement — which still does not disclose the name of the person concerned — “the diplomat detained in Lahore is a member of the U.S. Embassy's technical and administrative staff, and therefore entitled to full criminal immunity and cannot be lawfully arrested or detained in accordance with the convention''.
Meanwhile, a Lahore-based lawyer has filed a public interest petition stating that “Raymond Davis” must be made to stand trial in Pakistan. The petition was admitted and the court has asked the government to respond on Tuesday. While the U.S. is mounting pressure on the federal and provincial governments to secure the release of its national, the “religious” right wing parties have warned the powers that be of dire consequences if “Raymond Davis” is let off. Parallels are being drawn between this case and that of Aafia Siddiqui — the American-educated Pakistani who was convicted last year by a U.S. court for assaulting her interrogators in Afghanistan — amid apprehensions that the government may buckle to U.S. pressure.