US lawmakers threatened that they will consider cutting billions of dollars in military and other aid to Pakistan unless Islamabad frees the US diplomat, identified by police officials as Raymond Davis, the Associated Press reported.
US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter met with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday and urged him to release the American.
According to American officials, negotiations involving Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States scheduled to be held at the ministerial level on 24 February may be downgraded to talks among low-ranking officials if Islamabad does not release Davis.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke with Zardari and Pakistan’s army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani about the case.
Islamabad says US diplomats are not allowed to carry weapons in Pakistan.
Reports say that Davis was not a consulate official but an agent for the notorious US security firm, Blackwater.
“We continue to make it clear to the government of Pakistan that our diplomat has diplomatic immunity and in our view was acting in self-defense and should be released,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Monday.
Davis was arrested in the city of Lahore late last month after he shot dead two locals identified as Mohammad Faheem and Faizan Haider.
Mohammad Faheem’s wife, Shumaila, committed suicide on Sunday out of sheer frustration that Davis may escape justice considering the US pressure imposed on Islamabad to release him.
The incident has intensified anti-American sentiment in Pakistan leading to hundreds of Pakistanis, including lawyers, human rights groups and political activists rallying in front of the US consulate in Lahore on Monday and chanting anti-US slogans.