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US consulate employee kills two in Pakistan: What we know

The US is claiming diplomatic immunity for Raymond Davis, who shot two Pakistanis last week during an apparent robbery. That could make it harder for the weak civilian government to promote US-backed policies, analysts here warn.

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Such tough statements by Pakistani politicians may point to a looming standoff between the US and Pakistan over the issue.

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Pakistani outrage can be understood by "reversing" the situation, says Haider. “Let’s assume a Pakistani diplomat was carrying an illegal firearm in Manhattan and shoots two men, and a backup vehicle comes to his aid, which killed another American. How would the people of the United States have behaved?”

Can the US official be tried in Pakistan's court system?

On Sunday, the US embassy released a statement asserting that the consular employee was protected under Article 37 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which extends the same criminal immunity that diplomats have to members of the “technical and administrative staff.”

Pakistani authorities, meanwhile, claim he did not have diplomatic immunity and was not one of the foreign security personnel allowed to carry firearms. Dawn newspaper said it had documents proving that Davis entered Pakistan last June on a nondiplomatic visa.

Pakistani officials have refused to hand Davis back. According to Agence France-Presse, a court petition filed by a Lahore-based lawyer Monday demanded that Davis remain in Pakistan to stand trial, citing Article 41 of the Vienna Convention, which states: “Consular officers shall not be liable to arrest or detention pending trial, except in the case of a grave crime and pursuant to a decision by the competent judicial authority.”

Senior police officer Zulfiqar Hameed, in charge of the investigation, says that the two men on the motorcycle, identified as "Faizan Haider" and "Fahim," had previous criminal records and that eyewitnesses at the scene of the crime believed the men had been attempting to rob Davis.

Pakistani law, however, permits only the minimal use of force in self-defense, he says.

Initial autopsy reports suggesting both men were shot multiple times in the back weakens Davis’s argument of self-defense, says Haider.

Next steps?

In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, there had been some speculation that Pakistani officials would allow some time to pass before quietly handing the employee back to the US. Now, however, the question of repatriation has become "politically very risky," according to Badar Alam, editor of Herald magazine.

"It could result in some very serious consequences to a government that is barely hanging on," he says. Were the government eventually pressured enough to act, it would require the consent of the provincial government of Punjab, which is ruled by the right-of-center PML-N party, viewed with suspicion by the US.

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