Davis Case Complicates U.S., Pakistan Relations
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
And we'll report next on the effort to resolve an impasse in Pakistan. Raymond Davis, an American, is accused of killing two Pakistanis. He says he acted in self-defense, and the U.S. says Davis enjoys diplomatic immunity.
NPR's Julie McCarthy is watching the situation evolve.
JULIE MCCARTHY: In few short days, Washington has gone from severely strained relations with Pakistan to Congress retreating from calls to cut off aid to its ally over Pakistan's detention of the American, Raymond Davis. Senator John Kerry acquitted himself in a brief stop in Pakistan last week in a way that impressed many Pakistanis, delivering condolences to the nation and to the families of the two men killed when Davis opened fire on them. General Talat Masood says the expression of sympathy has gone down well.
General TALAT MASOOD (Pakistani Army): I think that was a very good move. And also to apologize was also very correct and showed a certain level of understanding, sensitivity and humility. I wish they had done that earlier, but it's never too late.
MCCARTHY: Masood says Pakistan, which depends on billions in U.S. aid, is keen to get out of the mess. And the three-week extension that the Lahore High Court granted the Pakistani government to explain whether Davis enjoys immunity, as the U.S. says, provides time for the parties to reach an agreement.
Gen. MASOOD: So I would say that during this period, they will come to some understanding with the family members and come to some settlement so that the whole thing is diffused.
MCCARTHY: Under Islamic Law, the aggrieved party has the right to grant forgiveness to the offending party. Financial compensation is given for the loss suffered by the heirs of the deceased.
Columnist Mosharraf Zaidi says while the practice of diyat, as it's known, is routinely followed in Pakistan, this is no routine case.
Mr. MOSHARRAF ZAIDI (Columnist): Hopefully, the court finds that he does have immunity and Davis can go home. But this isn't going to get minimized. No matter what you do now, the Pakistani people are going to be outraged. If Davis leaves here without a noose around his neck, there's going to be outrage in this country. And there's going to be another important reason for Pakistanis to detest, you know, what the U.S. is doing here.
MCCARTHY: The U.S. Embassy said today it cannot comment on what steps it is taking to resolve the case. One big obstacle in settling with the families is their intransigence. Waseem Shamshad is the brother of Mohammad Fahim, one of the two men whom Davis fatally shot. Waseem says compensation will not make his family whole.
Mr. WASEEM SHAMSHAD: (Foreign language spoken)
MCCARTHY: He's saying this matter cannot be solved by compensating the family. He says he recognizes there is an Islamic law that would provide that, but from his perspective, there is no concession on the part of the family. The one thing they would consider is an exchange in the release of Raymond Davis for Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani woman who has been convicted in an American court and is serving a long prison term for attacking America officials in Afghanistan.
Religious parties, including the Jamaat Islami, with its distinctly anti-American rhetoric, rushed to the defense of the families. Waseem denies that they have pressured him to spurn compensation. General Tallat Masood says the families are in a delicate spot negotiating any arrangement with the Americans, and their denial is understandable.
Gen. MASOOD: They may be saying that, but probably they may be agreeable to some sort of an understanding if they are compensated financially. They have to say that in order to keep the religious parties on their side. Otherwise, it would be very dangerous for them to do so.
MCCARTHY: In a sign that U.S.-Pakistan relations are back to business as usual despite Raymond Davis, a suspected U.S. drone missile struck an alleged al-Qaida compound in North Waziristan. It's the first such attack since Davis was detained three-and-half weeks ago.
Julie McCarthy, NPR News, Islamabad.
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