Former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has questioned the government's handling of the case of a US official arrested for gunning down two Pakistanis and insisted that the American does not have blanket immunity.
Referring to the Foreign Ministry's assertion in the Lahore High Court on Thursday that it needed three more weeks to certify the diplomatic status of arrested US official Raymond Davis, Qureshi told the media that the matter had been conclusively decided earlier this month when he was still the Foreign Minister.
Qureshi, who has repeatedly stated that Davis is not entitled to blanket immunity, said: "I want to ask that if this matter is to be resolved quickly and the Foreign Ministry's mind was very clear and I was given a briefing (about Davis' status), then why did the ministry seek three more weeks (from the court)? This is a big question mark."
He added: "I am absolutely shocked that the Foreign Office has asked for more time to ascertain whether Raymond Davis enjoys immunity or not. This is very, very unusual and rather fishy. I examined the documents placed before me and in my considered opinion, I agreed with the Foreign Office's stand (that Davis did not have blanket immunity)."
"I had taken this decision to the Prime Minister."
He said he had no desire to become part of the proceedings in the High Court to establish Davis' status but would tell the truth if the court calls him.
"I have no desire to be included in the proceedings, but I know that a petition has been filed which says I should be made party to the case. If I am made a party and if they (the court) ask me, I will tell them the truth."
Qureshi contended that the Foreign Ministry had not "mishandled" Davis' case as it had acted according to "the law and the truth."
He said not presented any formula to resolve the matter but believed that "some way should be found with dignity and justice."
"Don't forget four innocent Pakistanis have been killed. Who is answerable?" he said.
Davis was arrested in Lahore last month after he shot and killed two armed men he said were trying to rob him. A third Pakistani died when he was hit by a US consulate car rushing to help Davis. The widow of one of the men killed by Davis later committed suicide.
Reports have said the ruling Pakistan People's Party decided not to reallocate the foreign affairs portfolio to Qureshi after he went against a move by the government to grant immunity to Davis to resolve the row with the US over the arrest of the official.
Qureshi was also not invited to a meeting of the PPP's top leaders chaired by President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday.
"I have not gone against the party's policy. I have represented the party's views. I was not called to the meeting of the (PPP's) core committee. I should have been called," he said. The Lahore High Court has adjourned till March 14 the case related to Davis' diplomatic status.
Qureshi Questions Pak Govt's Handling of Davis case
Rezaul H Laskar/Islamabad
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