ISLAMABAD: Precarious political and economic situations besides threatening American tone for release of Raymond Davis involved in killing of two people in Lahore, has forced President Asif Ali to rethink his plans to visit US in near future.
“Although dates for the President’s official visit to the US were not yet finalized, it was very much on cards and the two sides were aiming at a mutually convenient schedule in March this year,” well-placed officials told Online News agency. Talking about the nature of the President’s planned visit, the officials added, it was a head of state level visit to be reciprocated by Zardari’s American counterpart Barack Hussain Obama sometime in later part of this year.
According to the officials, the President and his ruling PPP were caught in catch 22 as they were faced with economic cost of bringing the American accused of double murder to the book according to the law of the land. At the same the ruling party would have to pay political cost if it succumbs to the American pressures and recognizes what they claim the diplomat immunity for him, the officials added.
The officials were of the view that the apex authorities in Pakistan were considering to use the issue of detained American as bargaining chip for resolution of pending issues with the US. The officials considered the government in a position to convince the Americans for expediting release of money under Coalition Support Fund and Kerry Lugar Burner (KLB) Act. They added that the government of Pakistan could also ask to the American bipartisan Congressional quarters seeking Davis’s release for early legislation of Reconstruction Opportunity zones. However, the officials underlined that this bargaining could as dangerous as lethal for incumbent regime in Pakistan.
Meanwhile a spokesperson to US Embassy in Islamabad told this scribe, “we are continuing to take this issue (of Raymond Davis) up with authorities at the highest level. We are expressing the need to resolve this issue at the earliest so that we could move on to more important issues of bilateral relations.”
Asked whether the resolution of Davis’s issue was a pre-condition for the US to move on to the bilateral issues like strategic dialogue, the spokesman said, “do not try to put words in my mouth.” This scribe had approached the spokesperson for rebuttal or confirmation of the reports in American media that the Davis issue could put the bilateral relations at stake.
Asked whether the Embassy issued any statement ensuring that the American national’s issue would not affect the bilateral relations, the spokesperson said, “There was no such statement I just answered the questions I was asked as you are asking now.”
The spokesperson’s deliberate efforts to avoid confirmation or even contradiction of the reports in the American media claiming potential of this case to hurt bilateral relations clearly indicated gravity of the matter especially for the US Administration.