U.S. Consulate Staffer Murdered Pakistanis in Shooting, Lahore Police Says
Raymond Davis, the U.S. Consulate worker in Lahore who killed two Pakistanis last month, did not shoot in self defense, Lahore’s police chief said as a judge ordered Davis held for 14 more days of investigation.
“It was clear-cut murder,” chief Aslam Tareen said referring to Davis’ shooting of two armed men he told police were trying to rob him. Tareen’s assertion may deepen the diplomatic standoff over the case, which has strained ties between the countries and contributed to a 2 percent fall in Pakistan’s main stock index today.
The U.S government says Davis has diplomatic immunity and must be released. The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad made no immediate comment on today’s developments and its acting spokeswoman failed to answer calls to her office and cell phones.
The Obama administration, which presses Pakistan’s government and army for greater help in the war against Islamic militants in the region, has suspended high-level discussions with Pakistan over Davis’ case, the Washington Post reported this week. The State Department declined to comment on the report, which cited U.S and Pakistani officials, and has avoided discussing details of Davis’ case.
“He is a U.S. diplomat,” department spokesman Philip J. Crowley said in a Feb. 9 press briefing in Washington. “He was assigned to the Embassy in Islamabad. He has immunity. And we again call for his release.”
Pakistani judge Anik Anwar ordered Davis held for another 14 days to permit further investigation. He also directed Pakistan’s government to say clearly whether Davis has diplomatic immunity as the U.S. claims, Pakistan’s GEO television reported.
The country’s benchmark stock measure, the Karachi Stock Exchange 100 Index, fell 2 percent to 11,943.34.
“The row between the U.S. and Pakistan made investors jittery immediately after television channels here started playing reports that U.S. will sever all ties with us,” said Adnan Katchi, head of trade at IGI Finex Securities Ltd. “There was more confusion,” he said, when press reports quoted Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S., Husain Haqqani, as denying the story.
Davis is a former Special Forces soldier originally from Virginia who spent 10 years in the U.S. Army before leaving in August 2003, the Associated Press reported, citing Defense Department records. The State Department has not described his role in Pakistan except to say he was “ a member of the administrative and technical staff” of the embassy.
In the Jan. 27 incident, Davis was driving in a busy section of Lahore and was approached by two men, at least one of whom carried a pistol, police have said. “He fired 10 bullets,” Tareen told reporters today. “One of the boys he killed was running away when Davis shot him. The pistol recovered from one of the boys had bullets in its magazine, not in the chamber.”
Pakistan is investigating Davis’ visa status “and why he was carrying a gun,” Interior Minister Rehman Malik told legislators on Jan. 28.
Militants have attacked U.S. diplomats at least three times since March 2006. In August 2008, gunmen in a car fired on Lynne Tracy, the senior officer of the U.S. Consulate in Peshawar, damaging her armored vehicle.
Supporters of religious parties have organized rallies and protesters have burned tires and demanded that Davis be hanged.