Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Raymond Davis does not enjoy blanket immunity: Qureshi


Former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
ISLAMABAD: Regarding the issue of Raymond Davis, former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Wednesday said while he was the foreign minister the US national did not enjoy full diplomatic immunity.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Qureshi said the foreign office had briefed him on January 31 that Davis did not enjoy the blanket immunity that the US was claiming for him.

Qureshi said that after studying the Vienna Conventions of 1961 and 1963 and Pakistan’s Diplomatic Law of 1972, one could conclude that “the blanket immunity as being demanded by the US embassy was not valid”.

He said that after seeing relevant documents, it was his “considered opinion” that Davis did not enjoy diplomatic immunity. He had informed the Core Committee of the Pakistan People’s Party of his view on the subject.

He said an inter-ministerial meeting had also endorsed this point of view.

Qureshi said that his stance on the Davis issue was principled and that he would stand by his position.

He said that for him Pakistan’s sovereignty and dignity were most important and that if need be he would apprise the people of Pakistan of more facts.

Qureshi, who stepped down earlier this month during a Cabinet reshuffle but retains influence, reiterated this stance after a meeting with Chairman US Foreign Relations Committee John Kerry — an indication that the American politician may have a rocky time convincing Pakistan to free 36-year-old Raymond Davis, a US consulate employee who shot and killed two Pakistani men in Lahore last month in what he said was a robbery attempt.

He said he kept quiet on the Davis case earlier upon instructions from the leadership of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), but implied that his stance on the matter had cost him his job. A new foreign minister has not yet been appointed.

Whether I have a ministry or not, I will always remain with the PPP, Qureshi told reporters. To a question, he said it was the prerogative of the party leadership to choose the person to head any ministry and acknowledged that he was offered the Ministry of Water and Power.

Qureshi said the party leadership’s decision on the Davis subject was that as the issue was sub judice, it would be decided by the courts. The same stance was taken by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in his statement made at the floor of the National Assembly on February 3.

Regarding his meeting with US Senator John Kerry earlier in the day, Qureshi said he had informed Kerry about his stance.

He further said that the United States should realize the sacrifices that Pakistan has made in the war against terror. He said both Pakistan and the United States needed each other’s cooperation.

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