Thursday, February 17, 2011

Victims’ families show concern over delay in Davis’ hearing

* Fahim’s brother fears fake immunity will be provided to US gunman

* Protesters demand arrest of third victim’s killers

By Hussain Kashif

LAHORE: The families of three Pakistani victims on Thursday voiced concern over a three-week delay in the hearing of murder charges against US national Raymond Davis to allow the government more time to ascertain whether the gunman enjoyed diplomatic immunity.

“It is a ‘grace period’ granted to the Foreign Office to provide protective shield of fake immunity to the killer,” Waseem Shamshad said while addressing the participants of a sit-in organised by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) at Qartaba Chowk on Thursday.

Shamshad, brother of one of the victims, Muhammad Fahim, said although both the federal and provincial governments were not playing their due role in the case, his confidence in the judiciary had also shattered after Thursday’s hearing in the Lahore High Court. On behalf of the victim’s families, he pledged to continue their struggle to get justice. “My family will not compromise less then a punishment of public hanging to Raymond Davis at the same place where he killed both youth,” he said.

He vowed that they would not sell the blood of their beloved in any case and if the government would try to give any concession to the killer then they would besiege assemblies and airports and will not allow the gunman to leave the country. “We want justice at any cost,” he said.

He disclosed that consulate officials had tried to contact him for a meeting with the visiting Senator John Kerry, but he had strictly refused to meet him as he did not want a deal with Americans in anyway. He also assured the gathering that he and the families would not compromise or make any kind of deal with Americans, including any offer of American visas or hefty amount.

Later, talking to the journalists he said that they were not facing any pressure from any side and will not accept any such attempt as they had not only lost their brothers but also an innocent sister-in-law who scarified her life for getting due justice in the murder case. On a query about the press reports regarding the association of deceased with an intelligence agency or previous criminal record of them, he refuted such allegations, saying that Fahim and Faizan were ordinary citizens and had no been involvement in any criminal case. However, he clarified that Faizan was innocent person but his brother, who had already been murdered, was facing some criminal allegations according to the police record.

Faizan’s brother, Imran Haider, said the family had joined political rallies organised by religious groups calling for Davis to stand trial.

The United States has confirmed neither Davis’ name nor the precise nature of his assignment. “We believe Davis is not a diplomat, he’s a spy. If he’s a diplomat why hasn’t the government said that yet? It’s fishy,” Imran said. It is worth mentioning that PTI, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl JUI-F), Khaksar Tehreek and Sunni Tehreek participated in the protest demonstration and sit-in.

More than two dozens female activists of different parties also attended the demonstration. At the end of the protest, demonstrators lit candles in memory of the deceased with the demand of justice from the federal and provincial governments as well as the judiciary.

The protesters were carrying banners and placards inscribed with anti-American slogans like ‘Down with America,’ ‘Hang Raymond till death’, ‘Who is the murderer of Shamaila; America’. The protesters also demanded the PML-N-led government to withdraw all VIP facilities from Davis. They also demanded the arrest of Ibadur Rehman’s killers, who was ran over by a US consulate vehicle. They also warned the rulers against selling respect and dignity of the nation.

The protest demonstration was led by Lahore PTI President Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed while PTI leaders Umar Sarfaraz Cheema, Ejaz Chaudhry, ISF President Hassaan Niazi, JUI-F Lahore Division Ameer Qari Sanaullah, Sunni Tehreek leader Muhammad Doggar and Khaksar Tehreek’s Lahore Division Nazim Rana Muhammad Ayub also addressed the participants.

Mian Rasheed said that a motorcycle rally would be taken out from Qartaba Chowk to the American consulate after Friday prayers.

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