| Updated at: 0029 PST, Sunday, February 13, 2011|
ISLAMABAD: Former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has ruled out providing the kind of immunity to Raymond Davis which US called for, adding that the suspect is not a diplomat in Pakistan, Geo News reported.
Talking to Jang Group’s senior journalist, Ansar Abbasi, Qureshi said that Raymond Davis was not a US diplomat according to Pakistan’s official record as Foreign Ministry has searched out complete documents, dismissing likelihood of immunity for suspect, which US demanded from Pakistan.
Former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said in categorical terms that as per the official record and advice given to him by experts in the Foreign Office, the American double murderer Raymond Davis is not a diplomat and cannot be given blanket diplomatic immunity.
“The kind of blanket immunity Washington is pressing for Davis, is not endorsed by the official record of the Foreign Ministry,” Qureshi said in a brief chat with The News.
Qureshi was reluctant to talk in detail on the issue, but when requested to offer his brief comment, he said: “On the basis of the official record and the advice given to me by the technocrats and experts of the Foreign Office, I could not certify him (Raymond Davis) as a diplomat”.
Qureshi was approached after the Foreign Ministry sources said he spoke on the issue of Davis during his farewell speech in the FO.
Separately, sources in the Foreign Office revealed to The News that the Foreign Ministry on the basis of its record had already concluded that Raymond Davis was neither a diplomat nor enjoying blanket diplomatic immunity, but it was Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who had strictly asked the Foreign Ministry not to utter a word on the issue.
“Even in an inter-ministerial meeting held at the Foreign Office, it was agreed that Davis could not be handed over to America,” the source said, disclosing that Davis was never registered in the Foreign Office record even as a non-diplomatic staff as certain queries sent to the US Embassy remained unanswered.
The sources said on January 25, 2011, the US Embassy sent a list of its outstanding cases regarding the status of its officials and diplomats for settlement and to issue them the diplomatic identity card, but it did not include the name of Raymond Davis.
On 28th of January, a day after Raymond Davis killed two Pakistanis in broad daylight in Lahore, the US Embassy again sent the list of outstanding cases to the Foreign Ministry, but this time the list included the name of Raymond Davis.
This fact, the sources said, simply belies the Washington’s stance on blanket immunity for Davis. According to the Vienna Convention, a diplomat or staff sought by the sending state to be provided diplomatic immunity is required to be notified as such by the Foreign Ministry of the receiving state. It was not done in case of Davis.
Foreign Office sources fear that with the departure of respected Qureshi from the Foreign Ministry, an effort may be made to fudge the official record to the pleasure of Washington. It is worth mentioning here that Shah Mehmood Qureshi sacrificed his important cabinet slot for standing firm on the issue of Davis and for refusing to succumb to the kind of pressure that was exerted on him to release and hand over Davis to the Americans.
“This proud son of Pakistan asked us to go by the law and as per the record of the Foreign Ministry,” a senior Foreign Ministry source said, apprehending the things might not remain the same as they had been under Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
The ministry sources said Qureshi on Saturday paid a farewell visit to the Foreign Ministry where he was shown utmost respect by all and sundry. He also spoke to the ministry officials and, according to sources, there too he touched upon the Davis issue and said his position on Davis’s case is the finding of the Foreign Ministry.
The sources said although the Foreign Ministry was asked to keep a complete mum on the subject, it was Interior Minister Rehman Malik, who instead, was mandated to speak on the issue. The outgoing foreign minister, the sources said, has been telling the Americans that Davis could not be released or handed over to the Americans as the matter is now with the courts.
A Foreign Ministry official dealing with the American desk, confided to this correspondent that they were asked by the outgoing minister to place all the record pertaining to Davis with the courts and then leave it for the courts to decide if he could be given the kind of immunity that Washington is desperately seeking for him.
After the arrest of Davis, the Foreign Ministry in particular and the government of Pakistan and Punjab in general faced all sorts of pressures from the United States for the immediate release of the American killer.
However, it was the independent judiciary of the country that gave utmost strength to the rulers, who are telling the Americans to wait for a court decision and that nothing could be settled outside the courtroom.
Recently, the US congressmen, who met the authorities here, including the president, indicated of possible aid cut for Pakistan if Raymond Davis is not handed over to the Americans. On this issue, a Foreign Ministry source said the bullying tactics of the Americans negate their public posturing for long-term strategic relationship.