Mr Crowley and the senior official said they understood why Pakistan found it difficult to resolve the issue. — File Photo

WASHINGTON: Raymond Davis' activities in Pakistan do not affect his diplomatic immunity, says the US administration while commenting on media reports that the man was actually the head of a CIA operation in Pakistan.

“If reports in the New York Times and Washington Post linking Mr Davis to the CIA are true, does his diplomatic immunity become void?” a senior US administration official was asked at a briefing.

“The only relevant question is: Was he notified as a member of the administrative and technical staff upon entry to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs? And the answer to that question was yes. At that point, he acquired privileges and immunities,” the official replied.

Addressing the same briefing, US Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs P. J. Crowley said: “The question here is whether he was properly notified as a member of the diplomatic mission under the treaty” and he was on Jan 20, a week before his arrest. “We will not comment on his particular activity in Pakistan other than to say he's a member of the administrative and technical staff of the embassy and has diplomatic immunity,” said Mr Crowley when asked to comment on Mr Davis's CIA links.

The US official also expressed concern about Mr Davis's safety. “We have had multiple conversations with the government of Pakistan regarding his current surroundings. They have told us that he is in the safest possible location in Lahore. And clearly we hold the government of Pakistan fully responsible for his safety,” he said.

Both Mr Crowley and the senior official said they understood why Pakistan found it difficult to resolve the issue.

“We are very mindful of the difficulty that the government of Pakistan faces in terms of public opinion in this case. It's why we have, on an ongoing basis for the past month, engaged them constructively and forthrightly,” Mr Crowley said.

“But we remain concerned about him, and our message to Pakistan remains he should be released as soon as possible.”

Mr Crowley said since Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had told his parliament that there were differences of opinion between Pakistan and the United States on the interpretation and applicability of international and national laws in this case, the US administration felt it obliged to explain its position.

The senior administration official, who is an expert on diplomatic treaties, claimed that the international law was 'very clear' on this issue.

“Under the international law, local law cannot be invoked as an obstacle to fulfilment of a country's international obligations,” he added.

The official explained that articles 29 to 35 of the treaty governing diplomatic ties guaranteed “inviolability of person, inviolability of your private residence, inviolability of your papers, and immunity from arrest and detention, and immunity from criminal jurisdiction, including requirements to testify” once a person was notified as a member of the embassy staff. “There's no requirement to look behind that, and you don't look behind that. The whole point of it is to make it crystal clear up front. And once that's done, it's the end of the story.”

“At this point, we're not contemplating any actions along those lines,” said Mr Crowley when asked if the US government may curtail its military or economic assistance to Pakistan to show its unhappiness at Mr Davis's continued incarceration. “We're building a strategic partnership with Pakistan. It's important to the future of the region. It's also important to the security of the United States,” he said.

“We are engaging Pakistan in good faith. We want to see this resolved as soon as possible so it does not become an impediment in our relationship and it does not measurably interfere with the work we are doing together in fighting extremism that threatens Pakistan and threatens us.”