Handle Americans case with care: Kayani to Malik

Islamabad: Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has advised Interior Minister Rehman Malik to handle the case of a US consular employee, who shot and killed two Pakistanis, with "extreme care".

Kayani is "said to have advised Malik to handle the matter with `extreme care` given its sensitive nature," The Express Tribune newspaper quoted its sources as saying.

Kayani also advised that the American`s "apparent diplomatic links" and "military links" should be kept in mind as the case moves forward, the report said.

The two leaders also "discussed the law and order situation that could arise" if the American is granted immunity, the report added.

Malik met the army chief at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi on Friday.

There was no official word on the meeting though state-run APP news agency reported they had discussed "matters related to internal security".

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said the US national, identified by media as Raymond Davis, had been booked for murder and would be prosecuted according to Pakistani laws.

The American has contended that he acted in self-defence after two youths allegedly tried to rob him in a congested area of Lahore on Thursday.

A third Pakistani was killed when he was hit by a US consulate vehicle rushing to the aid of the American.

The American was remanded to police custody for six days by a judicial magistrate yesterday.

"Spotting the armed youths chasing me to rob me of my belongings, I fired at them when they came close to me," the American was quoted as having told the court by Deputy Prosecutor General Rana Bakhtiar Ahmed.

The US has launched a flurry of diplomatic activity in Washington and Islamabad to seek diplomatic immunity for the consulate employee.

The US deputy chief of mission and another senior diplomat separately met officials of the Foreign Office`s protocol division, which handles issues related to diplomatic immunities and privileges, the Dawn newspaper reported.

Following these contacts, US Ambassador Cameron Munter met Interior Minister Malik and Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir.

Diplomatic sources said the US State Department was also working with the Pakistani embassy in Washington on the issue.

"The US Embassy is working with Pakistani authorities to determine the facts and work towards a resolution," said a brief statement issued by the American mission in Islamabad.

The Dawn quoted its sources as saying that the US national "did not enjoy diplomatic immunity per se".

The sources said the American had a military background and was attached to the consulate in Lahore as a security consultant.

ABC News reported that the American was a "technical adviser" to the US government whose record shows experience in the US Special Forces.

The American runs Hyperion Protective Consultants LLC, a company that provides "loss and risk management professionals", the channel reported on its website.

Media reports said the American had visited Pakistan nine times since 2009. He travelled using a regular passport that had regular visit visas and had made frequent visits to Karachi and Peshawar.

The case highlights the complex relationship between Pakistan and the US in the war on terror.

There were several instances of American consular employees being caught with weapons in Islamabad and Lahore last year.

"The issue presents a potentially very tricky situation for the government, which is already seen as too subservient to Washington.

"At the same time Islamabad would not like to risk damaging its ties with the US, one of its biggest donors," the Dawn reported.

The Pakistan government`s worries have been compounded by protests in Islamabad and Lahore demanding punishment for the American.