Rallies in Pakistan condemn release of CIA contractor

11:39, March 19, 2011      

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Rallies across Pakistan Friday condemned what the demonstrators called abrupt and mysterious release of American CIA contractor Raymond Davis after he was acquitted of killing two people in Lahore

Raymond Davis, who shot dead two men in Lahore on Jan. 27, was freed on Wednesday and was immediately airlifted from Pakistan after blood money was paid to families of the slain men. The release sparked a strong protest in the country.

Lawyers and opposition parties said that the government has forced the victims' families to sigh the compensation plea and called for protest on Friday.

Religious, political groups, lawyers and members of civil society staged rallies across the country and the speakers condemned the "mysterious" release of the CIA contractor, who could face death penalty under Pakistani laws if found guilty.

The U.S. embassy and its consulates were closed on Friday in view of the large-scale protest demonstrations. Several other Western countries have decided to close their missions on Friday.

A religious group "Sunni Tehrik" and Jamaat-e-Islami had called for strike in the southern port city of Karachi. There was a mixed reaction to the strike call and markets in some parts of the city had been closed. The government had deployed extra police in several cities to ensure peace.

Demonstrators burnt effigies of Raymond Davis and U.S. flags and demanded of the government to tell the nation as to why killer of two innocent Pakistanis was freed in mysterious circumstances.

The Federal Government has so far not made any formal statement on the release of the CIA contractor and the Punjab government, where the shooter was facing trial, said that it has no role and the court had ordered the release.

All family members of the two slain men, who received some 2.34 million U.S. dollars as blood money, have been missing for two days and local media reported that several have gone out of Pakistan to be settled in the U.S.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S. has not paid the blood money and local media said the money was paid on the instructions from Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.

The CIA man arrest had badly affected ties between the two allies and their intelligence agencies. But now media said that the CIA and Pakistan's spy agency ISI had played major role in the compensation bargain.

The U.S. had suspended high level talks with Pakistan over the controversy as it had been insisting that Raymond Davis had diplomatic immunity.

Source: Xinhua
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