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Pak Punjab Govt didn't bow to foreign pressure to release Davis despite threats: Shahbaz


March 29, 2011 - Lahore

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz-led Punjab government has claimed that it had been pressurised, even intimidated, by foreign powers seeking the release of double murder accused CIA operative Raymond Davis, but it did not give in to the demand.

"The pressure and threats we had to bear cannot be stated, but we remained steadfast," The Dawn quoted Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, as saying in a press conference at Lahore.

"Some diplomats even authoritatively asked that Raymond Davis be handed over to them but I bluntly refused to become part of an illegal action to help them," he added.

However, Shahbaz declined to name the diplomats, their country or the nature of the threats.

Opposition parties have been blaming the provincial authorities, especially the Sharif brothers, for the mysterious and abrupt release of the US national on March 16 following a dubious deal, under which 200 million rupees were paid as diyat (blood money) to the legal heirs of his two victims- Faizan and Fahim.

Accompanied by Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali, Shahbaz said that he would resign if he, his party or the government were found to have been involved in influencing the court or the heirs of the victims.

"I'll immediately resign and seek forgiveness from the nation if found involved, directly or indirectly, in making the heirs accept the blood money or influencing the judge," he said.

Had he or the Punjab government been lenient, Davis would have been released in the very first week after his arrest on January 27, the chief minister added.

Shahbaz also rejected the perception that the prosecution had not pleaded the case forcefully at the last hearing, pointing out that at least six objections had been raised and the court was also requested to adjourn the proceedings for another two days in the Raymond Davis case.

Responding to a question, Shahbaz said that there were innumerable Raymond Davises roaming in Pakistan, but "being too weak and helpless, we could not act against them". He also urged the nation to wake up before it was too late.

Chaudhry Nisar said that the Punjab government should not be blamed for the weakness of the judge, implying that the court had somehow been influenced or pressurised to issue a certain verdict.

When asked whether his government would move higher courts against the release of Davis, Shahbaz said that any such decision would be taken after consultations with legal experts.

ANI

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