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Raymond Davis
Apart from the pressure from Washington, what may have led the government to this decision was a message from Pakistan's Ambassador to the US, Hussain Haqqani. - Photo by Reuters

ISLAMABAD: The government on Saturday appeared to be all set to grant 'immunity' to Raymond Davis, accused of double murder in Lahore, after Washington limited its bilateral interaction with Islamabad till the resolution of the matter.

Apart from the pressure from Washington, what may have led the government to this decision was a message from Pakistan's Ambassador to the US, Hussain Haqqani. He urged the government to grant immunity to Davis at the earliest. His message was sent after the State Department virtually snapped all communication with the embassy in Washington.

According to a top diplomatic source, a cable from the Washington embassy clearly warned that the diplomatic stand-off with the US was likely to grow more intense with each passing day.

The cable is said to have also conveyed the strong sentiments in Washington on the issue and said that the US could go all out to get Davis released.

That Islamabad will move rapidly to defuse the situation is also substantiated by others. Associated Press in a story datelined Washington quoted two unnamed Pakistani officials as having said: “They expect Davis to be free in days, once a Pakistani court goes over documents US officials have submitted to prove his diplomatic status.”

Over the past few days the US government steadily ramped up its pressure on Pakistan for Davis's release. Initially diplomatic notes were given to the Foreign Office urging it to accept Davis as a diplomat and to grant him immunity under Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations.

The matter was later taken up with the government by visiting Congressional delegations. The House Armed Services Committee delegation took the toughest line in its meeting with Prime Minister Gilani on Friday, where it was reportedly communicated to Pakistani leadership that it might be difficult for the committee to approve military aid and arms supply as long as its official remained in detention.

This was interpreted by Pakistani officials as a veiled threat that defence cooperation could be in jeopardy if the row persisted.

Mr Gilani had, on that occasion, asked the delegation for uninterrupted provision of equipment and assistance for enhancing the capability of the armed forces.

As it became clearer that Davis may be close to getting immunity, more information about his identity has come to light. Dawn

Davis, who was first claimed by the US embassy as a Lahore consulate staffer and was later declared as assigned to Islamabad embassy, at the time of his arrest, according to his interrogators, carried an ID showing that he worked for the US consulate general in Peshawar, a copy of which has been obtained by .

It looks to be an interesting case of an embassy staffer concurrently working at three different stations. Dawn

Some of the other information shared with by the investigators confirmed the previously known information that he had a military background and was posted with US Regional Affairs Office, which is linked by many analysts to CIA.

A US Department of Veteran Affairs card and Department of Defence contractor card were also in possession of Davis, which only adds to the confusion over his identity. The contract documents in Davis' possession revealed that he was on an annual contract with a fee of $200,000.

The US embassy, in a list of cases of its employees pending for registration, given to the FO on Jan 25 (two days before the incident), intriguingly did not mention Davis. However, a revised list submitted a day after the incident on Jan 28 carried his name.

Officials believe that his name was missing from the Jan 25 list because at that time he was assigned to the consulate general. But, apparently afterwards he was put on the list given subsequently to ensure that he benefited from Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961 instead of 1963 Convention on consular relations that has a narrower scope in terms of immunity.