Pakistanis protest against Davis’ release (Second Lead)

March 17th, 2011 - 9:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, March 17 (IANS) Street protests erupted in Pakistan for a second day Thursday against the release of American Raymond Davis, whose arrest after he shot dead two Pakistani men in January triggered a major diplomatic row between the two countries.

Lawyers and some political groups took to the streets against the release of Davis, who has been described as a contractor for the American CIA, BBC reported. Small protests took place in Karachi and Lahore, it said.

In Multan, lawyers boycotted the district and high courts, while activists of the Jamat-e-Islami staged demonstrations, Geo News said.

Protesters chanted slogans against Davis and burnt tyres in Laki Marwat, Dera Ghazi Khan, Muzaffarghar, Charsada and towns in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

There were also emotional outbursts on television, with people from different walks of life accusing the government, military and intelligence agencies of bartering away national interest.

Davis, 36, shot dead two Pakistanis on a motorcycle in Lahore Jan 27 after alleging they tried to rob him. He claimed he acted in self-defence.

A third man was also killed when a speeding car tried to come to Davis’ help.

The man was sent to jail despite initial American claims that Davis was a diplomat and deserved diplomatic immunity.

The Dawn News said that Davis was released following a deal between the CIA and Pakistan’s spy agency ISI.

A petition was meanwhile filed in the Lahore High Court challenging the release Wednesday after $2.3 million was reportedly paid to the kin of the two men he shot dead in January.

Blood money, or “diyat”, is a provision under Islamic Sharia law in which compensation can be paid to relatives of those killed to secure a pardon.

Family members of the slain men appeared in court and pardoned Davis after an agreement was reached between the two sides, Dawn News said.

A US Air Force plane carrying 12 men, reportedly including Davis, then took off from Lahore airport, apparently for Afghanistan.

The Dawn said Davis’s release “was preceded by a lot of give and take between the two countries, particularly their security agencies”.

“It was understood that resolution of the Davis saga hinged on a deal between ISI and CIA as to how the two inter-dependent spy agencies agreed to carry forward their relationship,” it said.

The American-Pakistani negotiations began at a secluded luxury beach resort in Oman last month between Pakistan Army Chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and the US military brass.

A petition filed Thursday by barrister Iqbal Jafri in the Lahore High Court said the families of the dead Pakistanis - Faizan and Faheem - were pressurised by the government into pardoning Davis, Dawn News reported.

The petition said Davis’s pardon and release violated the law. It requested the court to invalidate the decision and direct the authorities to initiate proceedings against those who brought about his release.

The US has denied paying “blood money” to win Davis’s release.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the National Public Radio (NPR) that Washington “did not pay any compensation”.

“The families of the victims … decided to pardon Davis. And we are very grateful for their decision,” she said.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner declined to discuss the details of his release.

“We did not pay compensation to the victims’ families. But beyond that, you’ll have to ask the families.”

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