Qureshi Blames US for His Exit From Pak Cabinet

M Zulqernain/Lahore
Qureshi Blames US for His Exit From Pak Cabinet
Former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi today held the US responsible for his exit from Pakistan's cabinet in the wake of a diplomatic row between the two countries over the arrest of an American functionary who shot and killed two men last month.

"I was supposed to sit with my American and Afghanistan counterparts in Washington in tripartite talks starting today. I am not part of that because I took a principled stance on Raymond Davis' issue," he said while interacting with journalists here.

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

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

Pakistani leaders have said Davis' case will be decided by the courts and rejected US demands to free him on grounds of diplomatic immunity.

Qureshi skipped the swearing-in ceremony for the new cabinet earlier this month after he learnt that his Pakistan People's Party had decided not to reallocate the foreign affairs portfolio to him.

Reports have said Qureshi's decision not to go along with the PPP's plans to give diplomatic immunity to Davis resulted in his ouster from the Foreign Ministry.

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

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

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

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

Qureshi further sought to take credit for raising the issue of differences over sharing river waters with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

"I told Mr Singh that, being an economist, he should understand the important linkage between water and an agrarian economy. The water issue should be given an important place in parleys between the two countries, otherwise, in future, relations will further deteriorate instead of improving," he said.
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