Complicity in Raymond Davis case – ‘Prove me guilty and I’ll resign’

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LAHORE -Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Monday offered to resign if accusations of his involvement in Raymond Davis’ release were proven right. Addressing a press conference in Lahore, Shahbaz said the Punjab government would continue its probe into the sudden release of Davis. However, he said the federal government and the victims’ families should be asked questions concerning the blood money that was paid and the deal that was struck to ensure Davis’ release. The chief minister reiterated that his government maintained its stance over the issue and was in no way involved in the bargaining process of Davis’ release.
Meanwhile, Senator Faisal Raza Abidi alleged that the Sharif brothers were involved in the release of Raymond Davis. “The Punjab government applies terrorist law against PPP parliamentarians, but why did it fail to apply the same to Davis,” he said at a press conference. In his hurriedly-called press conference at the CM Secretariat, Shahbaz was flanked by Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Nisar Ali Khan and Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah. Shahbaz had left for the UK the day Davis was released in a dramatic fashion, raising doubts that he deliberately stayed away from the country at the time. Later, Shahbaz denied having a role in Davis’ release.
During the press conference, the chief minister struggled to answer various queries, especially one about why Fisad-fil Urz clause had not been incorporated in the challan. Shahbaz did not clarify any point and continued pressing his innocence, claiming he would resign if his or his party’s direct or indirect involvement was proved regarding influencing the victims’ heirs and the judiciary for Davis’ release. He said the Punjab government was looking into unanswered questions that emerged following the CIA contractor’s release. To a question regarding blood money payment, he said moral courage demanded the question be put up to President Asif Ali Zardari, the federal government and other institutions.
He objected to linking his and PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif’s absence from the country with Davis’ release. “Those who are scoring points on Davis issue were aides of former dictator Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf in the Lal Masjid fiasco and spread of terrorism in the country,” he added. Shahbaz said diplomats threatened and exerted pressure for the release of Raymond Davis, but he preferred national dignity over anything else. “Within 14 days, challan was completed and submitted in court rejecting Davis’ plea for shootout in self-defence. If the Punjab government had not upheld national dignity and represented people’s aspirations, Raymond could have been set free in a week,” he maintained. About the role of prosecution, he clarified that the prosecution discharged its professional obligation without leaving any lacunas in the case until the last date of hearing and the government still had Davis’ passport in its possession.
However, to another question he said all things belonging to Davis had been handed over to the federal government.
“The Punjab government was asked to declare Governor’s House as sub-jail and shift Davis there but we refused to do any unlawful act and provide special comfort beyond the legal limit,” he added.
About health of PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, he said that Nawaz Sharif was recovering fast and would soon be among the people. The chief minister also distanced himself from a plea made by Nisar Ali Khan for the formation of a judicial commission to probe into the matter. Asked about a writ petition challenging the release of Davis in court, he said the government was thinking over the issue. Law Minister Sanaullah said six objections were raised in the challan against Raymond Davis, but the court turned them down. However, he could not explain the six points despite being asked the details.