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US-Pak cold war over diplomat's arrest

world Updated: Feb 09, 2011 01:57 IST
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Relations between Pakistan and the US have taken a turn for the worse as Islamabad continues to resist pressure from Washington to release American citizen Raymond Davis, who was involved in a street shooting incident last month.

The United States has put on hold several bilateral engagements with Pakistan in the latest move to pressure Islamabad to release Davis, who is facing charges for killing two Pakistanis in Lahore last month.

This includes a scheduled trip by US deputy secretary of treasury Neal Wolin to Pakistan. Local media reports that the Obama administration has even indicated that it may delay the forthcoming trilateral meeting among Pakistan, the US and Afghanistan in Washington later this month to discuss the Afghan endgame and the way forward.

The decision not to hand over Davis, despite the fact that interior minister Rehman Malik concedes that he is a diplomat, may have to do with the identities of those he killed.

Earlier reports suggested that the two were street robbers. Now it is emerging that both the men who were shot by Davis in a busy Lahore street were operatives of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) who were following the US official.

Officials suggested that President Asif Ali Zardari has been told by army chief Ashfaq Kayani not to let Davis go. On Monday, US ambassador Cameron Munter called on President Zardari in Islamabad to convey a message from Hillary Clinton to immediately release Davis.