Pakistan Islamists warn of protests if U.S. prisoner freed | Muslim Religious Group calls for enforcement of Sharia
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – An influential Pakistani Islamist party accused the United States on Tuesday of riding roughshod in the case of a U.S. consular employee held over the killing of two Pakistanis and said it would hold protests if he is freed.
Raymond Davis was arrested after shooting two Pakistanis in what he called self defense during an armed robbery attempt and what Lahore’s police chief called “clear-cut murder”.
The United States is piling pressure on Pakistan to release Davis, saying his arrest was a violation of international conventions because he has diplomatic immunity.
Pakistan says the matter will be decided by its courts.
The issue has become a lightning rod for anti-American sentiment in Pakistan, which the United States counts as an important, if unreliable, ally in its war against militants that launch attacks against its soldiers in Afghanistan.
Jamaat-e-Islami, a religious and political party capable of organizing large protests, accused the United States of exerting “unprincipled and unlawful” pressure on Pakistan.
“Why is America hell bent on trampling on Pakistani law and its judicial system? We will forcefully protest if he is released without a court order,” Jamaat-e-Islami deputy chief Liaquat Baluch told Reuters.
Jamaat-e-Islami and other religious parties don’t win many votes in elections. But the government can’t afford to ignore them.
Some members of the Pakistani media, which has in the past accused U.S. aid workers of being spies, have also called for Davis to be put on trial in Pakistan.