The Lahore High Court on Tuesday barred the Pakistan government from releasing the U.S. embassy “functionary” who is in police custody since Thursday for gunning down two armed men “in self-defence”. Chief Justice of the LHC Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry also placed “Raymond Davis” on the Exit Control List to prevent him from leaving the country.
This order was issued in the case filed by a lawyer on Monday urging the court to intervene to ensure that “Raymond Davis” is not allowed to leave the country on the pretext of diplomatic immunity. The U.S. embassy has been maintaining that the jailed American was a member of its technical and administrative staff and, therefore, enjoyed diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
As for the issue of diplomatic immunity, the court asked the government to clarify the position. The case has been adjourned for a fortnight by when the government is expected to inform the court whether “Raymond Davis” has diplomatic status.
Much of the wrangle between Pakistan and the U.S. over this case pertains to the status of “Raymond Davis”. The federal government is yet to clear the air on this issue. Asked about the delay during a late evening televised question-and-answer session, Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani said this was being looked into by the Ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs and the details would be out soon.
As 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, Mr. Gilani said there was no question of acting under duress. “The Aafia case was heard in the U.S. as per their laws and this case will be dealt with here as per our laws.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. Consulate General in Lahore has still not handed over the driver of the car and the vehicle which ran over the third person killed in this case. The third person was mowed down by the Consulate General's vehicle when it rushed to the assistance of “Raymond Davis”.
While Pakistan is yet to clear the air on the status of “Raymond Davis”, the U.S. continues to maintain silence over his identity. At the daily briefing in Washington, Assistant Secretary of State Philip Crowley refused to disclose the name of the American national and dodged questions on whether embassy staff can carry weapons. Neither did he explain why the man was travelling on an “official visa” and not a “diplomatic visa” as was evident from the photocopies of his passport and visa that have been shown in the Pakistani media.