Islamabad has told Washington that it needs time to decide the case of Raymond Davis who shot dead two Pakistanis in Lahore late last month.
The government, which is yet to decide on whether Davis enjoys diplomatic immunity, has informed the US about domestic compulsions as well as public backlash to any move on its part to facilitate his release, a Foreign Office official told The Express Tribune Saturday.
Davis was arrested after he shot dead two people riding on a motorbike at a busy intersection in Lahore Jan 27. He has been under investigation since then and has pleaded that he acted in self-defense.
He has claimed that the two alleged assailants wanted to rob him. The US embassy in Islamabad has demanded diplomatic immunity, which has so far been denied by the government.
Washington has stepped up pressure on Pakistan and called for the immediate release of Davis.
“The US government has repeatedly communicated to the Government of Pakistan that the illegally detained diplomat enjoys diplomatic immunities under the Vienna Convention of Diplomatic Relations,” said a statement issued by the US Embassy.
The foreign office official said that the authorities dealing with the issue were likely to conclude that the detained American citizen indeed enjoys diplomatic immunity.
“The final decision will be taken by the government … it has now become more of a political issue than diplomatic,” the official was quoted as saying.
“The foreign office has almost done its homework on how to deal with the issue,” the official added.
The fatal shooting of the two Pakistanis by the American triggered protests in different cities including Lahore. The protesters demanded that the government must not bow to the US to release Davis.
The Lahore High Court has directed authorities to place Davis on a list that prohibits people from going abroad with immediate effect.
An initial investigation report said that there was no evidence that Davis killed the two men in self-defense.
The report stated that Davis has been changing his statement. Earlier he said he shot at the men on seeing that they were carrying a pistol, but later he stated that they pointed the pistol at him with the intention of killing him.
Police sources said they also told the government that Davis was not cooperating with them and it was making it hard to ascertain why he was in the area where the incident took place.
Davis had also refused to divulge any information regarding the team from the US embassy which rushed to help him. The team was traveling in an SUV that collided with a motorcyclist, killing him.