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Army, ISI, Punjab CM played the main role

17 March, 2011

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ISLAMABAD: The Chief of the Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, through the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and some influential families of Lahore, played a key role in ‘convincing’ the families of Faizan and Faheem that Raymond Davis would be released in any case and they would get nothing, so the best course was to accept money and forgive the American killer.

The ISPR director general, who is also the spokesman of the ISI and Pakistan Army, Major General Athar Abbas, on being asked told our sources: “I am completely unaware whether General Kayani or ISI played any role in convincing the families in Raymond Davis case.” General Athar, however, did not deny the role of General Kayani and the ISI in remaining continuously in touch with the families of Faizan and Faheem for the last two months.

On the other hand, Shahbaz Sharif categorically denied that his departure for London on the D-day was part of the deal. He said that he never contacted the families of Faizan and Faheem to convince them to accept the money. Shahbaz also said that his government had arrested and detained Raymond. He tried to give the impression that his visit to London was in connection with the heart attack suffered by Mian Nawaz Sharf. The Punjab government sources, however, confirmed that Shahbaz’s tour to London was planned in indecent haste.

Though there were comments that the federal government also played a role in convincing the families but sources privy to the developments confided to our sources that despite having the utmost desire to do so, the federal government was unable to play any role in the whole episode and the whole credit went to the Pakistan Army, ISI and Shahbaz Sharif.

A senior PML-N leader privy to the developments told our sources that he was unaware why the Pakistan Army and the ISI were so much interested in releasing Raymond Davis but knew that Shahbaz Sharif was active and used his old friends in the city to convince the families after some important personalities from Saudi Arabia asked Shahbaz Sharif to get Raymond released at the earliest. On the other hand, a representative of the Saudi Embassy in Islamabad told our sources on Tuesday that the Saudi government had nothing to do with the Raymond Davis case in Pakistan.

Credible sources told our sources that in the second week of February, Shahbaz Sharif received instructions from some of his foreign friends and he engaged some influential personalities of Lahore to convince the families of the deceased Faizan and Faheem to accept the money. The same influential friends of Shahbaz Sharif, according to these sources, also persuaded the leadership of PML-Q and JUI-F not to create any problems in the resolution of the issue.

Sources said following the suggestions of his foreign friends, Shahbaz Sharif instructed Punjab’s Law Minister Rana Sanaullah not to officially inform the federal interior ministry about the names of four Americans who were revealed by Raymond Davis on the first day of investigation, so they could not be put on the Exit Control List and thus could leave Pakistan easily.

Rana Sanaullah did the same and later he had to admit that he had made a mistake. Rana Sanaullah, after mounting public pressure to arrest the killers of Ebad-ur-Rehman, sent an official letter to the interior ministry not to allow the four Americans involved in killing of Ebad-ur-Rehman to leave but refused to give the names of these American as per the directions of Shahbaz Sharif.

Following the willingness of the families to accept the money, sources say, Shahbaz Sharif deputed Rana Sanaullah to supervise the whole operation of release of Raymond Davis and left for London. Credible sources of the Punjab government confirmed to our sources that during this whole period, officials of ISI were in constant touch with Shahbaz Sharif and the families of Faizan and Faheem. The officials of ISI also remained present in all the meetings held between Shahbaz Sharif’s representatives and the families.

It is worth mentioning that President Zardari and an important and powerful federal minister did their best to get Davis free but their efforts were thwarted by the Punjab government. This was appreciated by the media. However, informed sources told this scribe that the American officials knew who played what role and were thankful to Shahbaz Sharif for his services.

Senior PML-N leader Siddiqul Farooq, while talking to this scribe, said that according to his knowledge, there were reports that the Saudi government played a vital role in the resolution of the Raymond Davis issue. Siddique said the heirs of both Faizan and Faheem were taken to Saudi Arabia and were paid most part of the agreed compromised amount. He said that rest of the amount was paid today (Wednesday) in the courtroom. Siddique, however, didn’t clarify who was the real person who acted on the orders of Saudis in Lahore and pressurised the families to accept the compromised money. Some leaders also claim that chief justice of Lahore High Court was also on board and he acted on ‘suggestion’ of Shahbaz Sharif. However, our sources couldn’t verify the same from independent sources but it is on record that chief justice LHC on Tuesday lifted the ban on inclusion of Raymond in the ECL.

End.

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