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Obama’s almost-hostage crisis

February 25th, 2011 - 3:38 pm

The Pakistani Government announced that it would put Raymond Davis, who the US says has diplomatic immunity, on trial for shooting two men that were attacking him.

Davis, who says he acted in self-defence when he shot the men on a busy street last month, has been charged with double murder and faces possible execution.

The case has triggered a major diplomatic row between America and Pakistan after Washington insisted he had diplomatic immunity and must be repatriated.

The article in the Daily Mail noted that Davis may be at the center of a struggle between Pakistan’s ISI and the CIA. “Relations between the spy agencies took a blow in December, when the CIA station chief in Islamabad was forced to leave the country after his name was published in a court filing over drone attacks. Davis’ case made matter worse.”

Davis appeared to challenge the competence of the Pakistani court over him. ABC News noted that at his arraignment “the handcuffed Davis, however, refused to sign the document and instead presented to the judge a written notice declaring diplomatic immunity”. He is now being held in a jail housing 4,000 Islamic militants, although his actual cell is segregated.

A mission by Senator John Kerry to “repair relationships” that was reported by Boston.com appeared to have borne no immediate fruit. “The Obama administration dispatched Senator John F. Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to Pakistan last night to try to repair deteriorating relations after the arrest of a US Embassy worker who shot two Pakistani motorcyclists dead.”

Meanwhile, the NYT reports that Pakistan is demanding data on CIA contractors. The NYT reported that if the US was prepared to give Pakistan what it wanted that the whole issue could be amicably settled. A Pakistani source was quoted as saying, “the official said that the American and Pakistani intelligence agencies needed to continue cooperation, and that Pakistan was prepared to put the episode in the past if the C.I.A. stopped treating its Pakistani counterparts as inferior.”

The White House has asked Pakistan to release Davis “in accordance with the Vienna Convention”.

“Davis was received by the government of Pakistan as an employee of the embassy and he was granted diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Conventions,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters.

Carney did not say how the administration would respond if the Pakistanis refused.  But the world can rest assured that it is in good, decisive hands.

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