Pakistan said on Thursday that it was working with the US to ensure that the issue of suspected CIA contractor Raymond Davis, arrested in January for gunning down two men in Lahore, did not adversely impact bilateral ties, as it insisted that the case would be decided by the courts..
Faced with a volley of questions on Davis at the Foreign Office's weekly news briefing, its spokesperson Tehmina Janjua said the matter was sub-judice and it would be "a little early for me to say anything in this regard before" a hearing in the Lahore High Court on March 14 to decide the American's diplomatic status.
"As far as the foreign ministry is concerned, it is our responsibility to ensure that no relationship goes down to ground zero and our effort, and that we understand of the (US) State Department, is similar in this regard," she said.
Janjua refused to comment on the US administration's stand that 37-year-old Davis' arrest had violated the Vienna Convention and reports that the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia were involved in negotiations to resolve the matter.
"We have also seen reports to this effect in the media but as the situation stands right now, the case is sub-judice and it is best that we do not make any further comments on it," she said.
Pakistan and the US "continue to talk to each other" and Islamabad believes "we can sort out all issues bilaterally", Janjua said.
The Law, interior and foreign ministries are working together to address Davis' case in line with international and Pakistani law and global practice, she said.
The US-Pak relations have plunged to a new low after Islamabad rebuffed repeated demands from Washington for Davis' release on grounds of diplomatic immunity.
The Pakistani leadership, fearful of a public backlash due to rising anti-American sentiments, have insisted that the matter should be settled by the courts.
In response to another question about a senior Pakistan army officer's contention that a majority of those killed in US drone attacks were terrorists, Janjua said there had been no change in Pakistan's policy on the missile strikes by the unmanned spy planes.
"We continue to protest with the US with regard to civilian casualties that take place. In this context, the leadership has repeatedly raised this issue with the US leadership and all delegations from the US that visit Pakistan," she said.