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General Zia-ul-Haq, the most condemned military dictator of Pakistan’s history, had no idea that his amendment in the anti-blasphemy law will assume the status of a “divine law” within decades of his death. This amendment was made to please the clergy which was one of the sources of his strength and legitimacy and which he strengthened at the cost of the country. This was a man-made law by every definition and there were dissenting voices demanding to rewrite the procedure in order to minimize the chances of its misuse for personal reasons. However, with the spread of extremism in the country, any move to revise the procedure was deemed to be blasphemy itself. The first high-profile victim was Punjab’s governor Salman Taseer who was killed by his own bodyguard for seeking justice for a Christian convict under the law. Just after two months of now forgotten tragedy, Pakistan’s minister for religious minorities, who had opposed the blasphemy laws, was shot dead in Islamabad on Wednesday. Shahbaz Bhatti, the only Christian member of the cabinet, was thus, the second senior member of the ruling Pakistan People’s party to be gunned down in two months.

According to media reports, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), has accepted the responsibility for this assassination. The killing was condemned by human rights groups, who say religious extremists are waging a campaign of murder and intimidation to expand their influence and create a climate of fear for minorities. The killing also raises questions about the level of security the state is able to provide to senior officials who might be at risk of attack. The government would investigate why Mr Bhatti did not have greater protection – including a bullet proof car. After Governor Salman Taseer’s assassination, someone like Shehbaz Bhatti, who was such an obvious target, should have had more security.

The bodyguard who shot Mr. Taseer said he had killed him for calling for changes to the country’s blasphemy laws. Human rights groups say the laws enshrine discrimination and render minorities second class citizens. An outpouring of popular sympathy for the Mr Taseer’s killer showed how tolerance of pluralism is shrinking in once moderate Pakistan as liberal politicians have increasingly ceded ground to religious hardliners.

Mr. Taseer had championed the case of a Christian woman who had been condemned to death under the blasphemy laws.

Please also read:

What is more disturbing in Salman Taseer murder, crime or its glorification?

Blasphemy law is responsible for extremism, says known Islamic scholar….

It was USSR which had humiliated defeat at the hands of Afghan Mujahideen leading to its break-up. These Afghans were aided and supported by Pakistan and the US. In effect, USSR was fighting USA in Afghanistan. But as they say there is no permanent enemies and no permanent friends in international relations. The validity of this statement has been proved by Russia, the successor of the former USSR. Russia has come to rescue the US in its predicament of having a risky supply route to its forces in Afghanistan. According to The Moscow Times, Russia’s State Duma ratified an agreement Friday to allow the United States to ferry troops and supplies across Russian territory for military operations in Afghanistan.

The Duma voted 347-95 in favor of the 2009 deal, which has already been implemented pending ratification. Communists, who opposed the ratification, denounced the agreement with the United States as a “unilateral concession.”

The U.S.-Russian transit agreement was drawn up during a trip by U.S. President Barack Obama to Moscow in 2009 in an effort to “reset” relations that had been damaged by a 2008 war between Russia and Georgia. Currently, about 80 percent of NATO’s supplies cross through Pakistan. But NATO has been trying to reduce its dependence on convoy routes through Pakistan, where they are prey to Islamist militant attacks. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the Duma on Friday that there have been 780 U.S. flights over Russia — carrying 115,000 U.S. troops and more than 19,000 metric tons of cargo to and from Afghanistan — since September 2009.

Ryabkov said the air route has accounted for 16 percent of all U.S. military shipments to and from the country. He said the agreement has helped improve ties with the United States and NATO and protects Russia’s interests in other areas. Moscow said last year that the deal could also be expanded to allow vehicles in need of repair and refurbishment to be sent back to NATO countries. But the transit deal stops short of opening the Russian route for weapons for the NATO mission in Afghanistan, where Moscow fought a disastrous 1979-89 war that killed 15,000 Soviet troops. Russia has struck similar deals with Germany, France and Spain and has touted them as a key contribution to international efforts to stabilize Afghanistan.

The upheaval in North Africa and Middle East may not actually travel to other countries but its adverse affects have already reached every nook and corner of the world. It is going to hit hard every economy but will be nightmarish for poorer economies and poor segments of all societies. Pakistan’s fragile economy will be hit even harder where political compulsions keep the government from taking difficult decisions. The surge in oil prices will push the prices upward which will life of ordinary citizen even more difficult. As predicted in these page, the Libyan turmoil has finally started showing its teeth and taking its toll; the world economies are at the brink of yet another crisis as oil surges to almost $120 a barrel and the safe-haven Swiss franc hit a record high on Thursday on fears that turmoil in Libya could spread.US equity markets also hovered near break-even after this week’s sharp slide. Analysts said it was too soon to say a long-expected sell-off on Wall Street was over with unrest in North Africa and the Middle East still alive. The escalating violence in Libya, home to Africa’s largest proven oil reserves, lifted benchmark Brent crude oil to its highest level since August 2008 and kindled concerns of an inflationary spike that might stall global recovery.

This week’s relentless surge in oil prices stung the US dollar against major currencies. The Swiss franc benefited from the turmoil in North Africa while the euro extended gains against the dollar on expectations interest rates in the euro zone will rise earlier than those in the United States. The dollar fell to a record low of 0.9240 of a Swiss franc on electronic trading platform EBS.

Copper, considered a harbinger of economic sentiment, firmed after better than expected US jobless data, but it remained under pressure on concerns that higher oil prices driven by violence in Libya could slow economic growth. Brent crude futures for April delivery spiked to $119.79 a barrel before easing to $114.55, up $3.30 on the day. US light sweet crude oil also rose but remained under the $100 mark it touched on Wednesday for the first time since October 2008. Spot gold prices rose slightly to $1,412.00 an ounce, up just $2.05.

The Financial Times quoted an unnamed official as saying Saudi Arabia was in active talks with European refiners who may be hit by a disruption in Libyan exports. Forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi launched a counter-attack but rebels threatened the Libyan leader’s grip on power by seizing important towns close to the capital and bringing the tide of rebellion ever closer to his power base. Disruption to Libya’s output has cut at least 400,000 of the country’s 1.6 million barrels per day production, Reuters calculations show. Italian oil company, ENI said the decline was greater, estimating 1.2 million barrels of oil had been removed from the market.

Pakistan stock market also lost hope in domestic political stability amid rumors of Punjab government split and Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) on Friday tumbled by more than 3.5 percent on foreign selling and political uncertainty. There was panic selling in the market. As reported by Business Recorder. Foreign investors sold because of the global sell-off, political un-certainty and the rise in international oil prices. KSE benchmark 100-share index was 3.59 percent, or 405.24 points, lower at 11,134.02 on turnover of 104.86 million shares by 3:32 p.m.

In a royal snub, the Queen of England did not show her desire to meet parents of the future queen, Kate Middleton, till the day of royal wedding on April 29, 2011. In yet another snub, she invited all and sundry to the wedding but did not send any invitation to her ex-daughter-in-law, Sarah Ferguson, who will be watching England’s biggest event of the decade like the rest of the general public — on the small screen. The 51-year-old Duchess of York — who was caught on film trying to sell access to her ex-husband, Prince Andrew, brother of Prince Charles, last year – has been left off the guest list for the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. She will be overseas during the April 29 ceremony.

“She never expected to be invited,” her spokesman told the gossip website, though her daughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, are set to attend. The royal family sent out the invites — emblazoned with Queen Elizabeth’s insignia — last week to 1,900 people.

According to CNN, there are five reasons that Fergie has not been invited; she is an embarrassment to the Royal Family, Prince William bears a grudge against her like his mother, Diana, there is simply no room for more guests, her ex-husband’s girlfriend will already be there and that she herself is not interested to attend the wedding.

Two other notable non-invitees: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle. According to The Daily Mail, the Queen invited 40 heads of state via gold-embossed invitations for the April 29 wedding at Westminster Abbey. Leaders from countries such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand were invited, along with Kings and Queens across Europe such as Spain, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Greece. Despite the royal snub, the Obamas will be guests of their own state visit to the UK in May. There’s been buzz that a state visit for President Obama was set up because there would have been expensive costs associated with added security to protect him at the wedding.

Related link:

Denver Post: Sarah Ferguson snubbed for royal wedding

The Passive Voices: Queen of England will not meet the parents of Kate Middleton….

“How many rain showers will wash away the bloodstains in Bangladesh” (khoon ke dhabbey dhulein ge kitni barsaaton ke baad) is a touching line of a famous poem of Faiz Ahmed Faiz? The romanticism of India’s friendship as a liberator was soon over for Bengalis after creation of Bangladesh but it seems it will take ages to heal the wounds of a bitter war between two wings of the same country.  This bitterness is so strong that it is still considered blasphemous in Bangladesh to merely mention Pakistan Army in a soft note even in fictions and movies. A Bangladeshi film about a love affair set in the country’s bloody 1971 struggle has stirred up heated debate, prompting the distributor to pull it from cinemas.

Meherjaan: A Story of War and Love, which features some of south Asia’s biggest stars including Victor Banerjee and Jaya Bachchan, wife of Indian movie legend Amitabh Bachchan, was released last month to critical acclaim. But the plot, charting a romance between a local girl and a Pakistani soldier, has hit a raw nerve in Bangladesh, where a new tribunal has just begun prosecuting suspected collaborators.

“I fought in the war but after we released this film, my fellows called me a collaborator,” the owner of the film’s distribution company, Habibur Rahman Khan, told AFP.

“We’ve stopped distributing the film because critics said it degraded Bangladeshis,” he said.

In the film, Meherjaan, a Bangladeshi girl, falls in love with a Pakistani soldier. A barrage of criticism in the Bangladeshi press and on the Internet said the film’s romantic storyline undermined the suffering during the war.

“Meherjaan has insulted the spirit of the country’s liberation war and our history,” said four writers, in a joint article in the Prothom Alo newspaper.

“Under the guise of a story about love and war, it’s a film about insult and deception,” they wrote.

The film, because of its positive depiction of a Pakistani soldier, has been “unofficially banned”, Farzana Boby, an assistant director on the film, told AFP.

“It is unfortunate. All we have tried to do is to make a good film. It has been pulled even though it was drawing bigger crowds than any other major hit film in Bangladesh,” she said.

The crew and directors have also become targets of hate-campaigns by people who cannot tolerate a “different narrative of our liberation war,” she said.

“They are angry because our story does not follow the dominant theme of the struggle. There cannot be a good-natured Pakistani soldier who rebels against the army,” she said.

Some industry professionals have lamented the angry reception the film has been given.

“It’s unfortunate there is such a huge controversy over such a good film. We live in a democratic country and everyone has the right to tell their own story,” film director Chasi Nazrul Islam told AFP.

“We get stronger if we listen to all voices.”

It will be futile to tell Bengalis that their own countrymen who had interacted with India during their freedom struggle had noted the facts and myths of the history books written during the time of Bangla Bundhoo. It is time that history books are rewritten to lessen the bitterness.

Upheaval in the Middle East is spreading and no one knows where it will stop. But everyone is clear about one thing; it will definitely spread into the rich industrialized world. It may stop somewhere in Europe because American continent is still out of reach. The turmoil in the Arab world is going to trigger worst-ever economic crisis for the world. And it is all about oil which, through still flows from Middle East, is getting dearer in the international market with worsening of crisis in North Africa and Arabian Peninsula. The focus of news after Egypt and Tunis is on Libya, Bahrain and Iran and by implication of Saudi Arabia. Libya is one of Africa’s largest holders of crude oil reserves, Algeria and Iran are major suppliers and Bahrain and Yemen both border Saudi Arabia on the peninsula that produces much of the world’s oil. Together, Libya, Algeria, Yemen, Bahrain and Iran represent about 10 percent of global oil production.

According to a report in The New York Times, oil markets are famously skittish, especially when there is even the possibility of disruptions in the Middle East and North Africa, which account for some 35 percent of the world’s oil production and a greater percentage of the world’s known reserves. That nervousness is likely to spread elsewhere, with so many economies still fragile in the wake of the worldwide economic downturn and with the possibility that higher crude prices could lead to further increases in food prices. The high cost of food has already led to unrest in several countries, even before political revolts began in the Middle East. The increased price of energy is a “burden that can be a detriment to the global economic recovery.

Brent is a global benchmark crude oil that is produced in the North Sea and traded in London. It is typically the benchmark that is used to set the price for most of the oil from the Middle East. Another benchmark crude, West Texas Intermediate, closed at $86.20 a barrel on Friday. Each benchmark has an impact on gasoline prices in the United States, with the East Coast more affected by the Brent prices than other regions. The reserves in the Middle East and North Africa (known as the MENA countries), while long important, have grown even more critical as demand for oil increases. Prices have risen about 30 percent since September, reaching their highest level since September 2008.

Those who track oil prices are especially worried about the renewed turmoil in Iran and the possibility of unrest spreading from Bahrain to Saudi Arabia, which could have a major impact on oil’s price and its availability. Richard H. Jones, the energy agency’s deputy executive director and a former American diplomat in the Middle East, said that about 17 million barrels of oil passed through the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz every day. “So if that shuts down, we’re in big trouble,” he said.

But so far, Mr. Jones said, the effects of the regional turmoil have been small. Egyptian production and transportation of natural gas have continued despite an explosion at a pipeline in the Sinai as the demonstrations against President Hosni Mubarak were under way. (An Egyptian investigator said four gunmen bombed the pipeline.) Although there have been labor protests among workers at the Suez Canal, so far analysts have said there is no danger of the vital waterway being affected by the country’s political upheaval.

The wave of popular revolts has not stopped at Suez, it is spreading like bushfire. And the next destination of this fast-spreading upheaval ironically is again the place widely considered as an American base. Bahrain which hosts the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet patrolling the Gulf, is next in line after Tunis and Egypt. According to The Wall Street Journal, this revolt is the first to pit a Shiite Muslim majority against Sunni rulers—heightening the dilemma for the U.S. as it struggles to pursue its interests in the region. The developments came as security forces in Yemen, an important ally in U.S. antiterrorism efforts, fought back protesters for a fifth day. In Iran, the government threatened leaders of Monday’s protests there with execution and made a fresh wave of arrests. The parallel protests against key allies and enemies of the U.S. sharpened the difficulty for the Obama administration, as fast-moving uprisings have unseated regimes in Tunisia and Egypt and triggered opposition rallies in Algeria, Jordan and elsewhere.

The president and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton both offered encouragement to Iranian protesters and aimed tough words at Tehran on Tuesday, in marked contrast to their relative silence on Iran during the last wave of protests in Iran in 2009. Mr. Obama praised the courage of protesters and said the Iranian regime was “pretending” to celebrate Egypt’s revolt while “gunning down and beating people who were trying to express themselves peacefully” at home.

But anti-US Iran is also not immune to violent protests where protests started again despite government’s use of “iron hand” to suppress the previous post-election demonstrations of 2009. This time, dozens of protesters were arrested for participating in the banned rally, an opposition Web site reported. A similar demonstration, clashes and arrests were reported in the central Iranian city of Isfahan. The gathering in Tehran appeared to be the most significant anti-government protest here since security forces cracked down on a series of massive demonstrations in 2009. The size of the crowd was difficult to estimate. Some witnesses said they believed it exceeded 200,000. The Associated Press said tens of thousands of people demonstrated. The government which had been admiring Egyptian protests, has declared Iranians’ protests as illegal and threatened with severe punishments for violators.

According to a news report, Bahrain is a tiny, island kingdom in the oil-rich Gulf best known for its banking prowess, along with bars that cater to nationals from alcohol-free Saudi Arabia next door. It pumps little crude itself, but the protests here have brought home to neighboring oil-rich capitals—Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha and Riyadh—a taste of the turmoil that had largely been limited to much poorer corners of the Arab world. It’s also the first country experiencing the recent unrest in which the often-explosive sectarian divide between Sunni and Shiite Muslims has emerged in a meaningful way. Shiites make up small minorities in other recent hot spots, including Egypt, Jordan and Yemen, but religious tensions haven’t been a driving factor in unrest in those places. A sustained Shiite uprising in Bahrain would alarm Sunni rulers in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, all Gulf countries with sizable Shiite minorities. They worry about the unrest spilling across their borders, and the possibility Iran would have more opportunities to meddle in the region. Gulf rulers are often quick to blame Iran for instigating trouble among Shiite populations, though real Iranian influence in those communities has been limited.

Some U.S. officials believe if the current government fell in Yemen, U.S. operations in the country could be hamstrung. Those operations include training commandos and conducting counter-terrorism strikes. Yemen is the home to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and officials say a collapse of the weak government could give the group free rein.

Likewise, the Obama administration fears unrest in Bahrain could undercut U.S. interests in a region where a significant chunk of the world’s oil is produced and transported each day. Although it lacks oil, Bahrain’s housing of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet make it a critical port for the Navy vessels deployed to counter Iran and protect the Persian Gulf. If Bahrain’s Sunni-led government were to be forced from power—something protesters haven’t yet made a focus of their demands—some fear a new government might seek closer ties to Iran and force the U.S. Navy to relocate. Another concern is that an uprising in Bahrain could spill into next-door Saudi Arabia or Kuwait, where even minor unrest might roil world-wide oil markets.

Please also read:

Wall Street Journal: Wave of Unrest Rolls into Gulf

The Washington Post: Anti-government protests spread to Iran

Who is this guy whose real name we have yet to find out and who has been given the name of Mr. Raymond Davis? Why is the US administration of President Obama ready to go to any extent to secure his release, even if it means abandoning of a strategic ally like Pakistan, sacrificing its core values and further tarnishing the US image as a bully and a bulldozer of the process of law? We are told that his real identity is being concealed which means that he was sent to Pakistan and the diplomatic status to him, if at all it was granted, was granted on a fake identity. Is it how the entire diplomatic staff is posted to the US posts around the globe or was it a special gesture shown for a country which made tremendous sacrifices to keep the West safe from terrorists? These questions are very intriguing and sometimes it sounds as if the man in question is a top US official whose release has become a matter of life and death for the US.

Pakistan and the US have been close allies in difficult times. US has always bailed Pakistan out in the times of economic crises and Pakistan is fighting a bloody war on its Western front so that US citizens could sleep tight without the fear of devastating attacks like the 9/11. But ignoring all this, the US is pressurizing Pakistan to free him at all costs. This pressure has divided the Pakistani society and those who always thought US to be a society respecting the rule of law are forced to review their love for Uncle Sam. The US pressure is being exerted in many forms. According to a report in the Financial Times, the US has postponed a meeting with Pakistani officials in Washington amid an escalating dispute over the fate of Raymond Davis, an American embassy official who shot dead two men. The Obama administration is placing mounting pressure on Pakistan to free Mr Davis, on the grounds that embassy staff are entitled to diplomatic immunity. Pakistan’s government has said the courts must decide his status.

According to the report, this stand-off has chilled relations at a time when the US is seeking to win broader co-operation from Pakistan’s military in its campaign in Afghanistan. The US State Department said at the weekend that it was postponing a February 23-24 meeting of senior officials from the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan. P.J. Crowley, a State Department spokesman, said the decision had been taken “in light of political changes in Pakistan” and after discussions with Afghan and Pakistani officials in Washington.

The postponement of the meeting has been interpreted in Pakistan as a snub designed to underline Washington’s growing impatience with the government of  Pakistan. The case places Pakistan’s leadership in an acute dilemma. Pakistan is the second biggest recipient of US economic aid and its government is rightly and justifiably reluctant to antagonize Washington. But the prospect that Mr Davis could escape punishment for the shooting, which occurred last month in the eastern city of Lahore, has crystallized widespread anti-American sentiment in Pakistan. The government fears unleashing popular anger if he is repatriated.

“It will be extremely counterproductive if one incident or one person … destroys a relationship of 60 years. It is simply unthinkable,” Reuters quoted senior Pakistani official as saying.

The case has raised questions over what Mr Davis, a former US Army Special Forces soldier, was doing in Pakistan. The US embassy has described him as a member of its “administrative and technical staff.” Unanswered questions over why he was armed and his precise role have fuelled speculation in Pakistan’s media that he may have been involved in some form of intelligence gathering.

In remarks that will complicate the government’s position even further, Pakistan’s former foreign minister said that the foreign ministry had no record of Mr. Davis being registered in Pakistan as a diplomat. Police arrested Mr. Davis after the January 27 incident in Lahore, the capital of Punjab province, but he has yet to be formally charged in connection with the deaths of the two men. A passer-by was killed when a US vehicle rushed to the scene.

If Mr. Davis is in a position to alter the relationship between two country, then he is simply not an intelligence operative or even a diplomat. The anxiety of US administration to secure his release at all costs shows that he is a very important person or was on a very important assignment.

Finally, full dress rehearsals of the script on Egypt have started taking place. Mubarak’s possible replacement, the very same gentleman used for finding WMD and giving reasons to the US to occupy Iraq has already been shipped to Cairo. Negotiations are under way to fine-tune the “transition” arrangements. A public message has been sent to Mubarak to step down. It shows that time has run out for the president. But Hosni Mubarak is clinging to power and looking for extension to his rule at least till September which is only half a year away. But it seems that no one is listening to him. He may have to be sent following the footsteps of the Tunisian dictator.  Time was when a dictator like Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, watching his hold on power crumbling in the face of an uprising, had plenty of retirement options. Odds were he could find a quiet life in one of Europe’s posher watering holes: Mougins in the hills above Cannes, on the shores of Lake Geneva, or maybe a smart Belgravia townhouse. He generally had plenty of cash parked outside the country and often would take a last dip in the treasury on the way out the door. To be sure, he had to keep his wits about him to avoid anarchists and assassins, and he had to avoid too much obvious meddling in his homeland’s politics lest this jeopardize his host’s grant of asylum. But he could usually look forward to a peaceful and comfortable run for his waning days.

So why is Mubarak trying to squeeze a few more months out of his three-decade career in office and avowing his intentions to stay in Egypt rather than packing for the Riviera? According to an article in Foreign Policy Magazine, it may be because exile isn’t what it used to be; over the last 30 years, things have gotten increasingly difficult for dictators in flight. Successor regimes launch criminal probes; major efforts are mounted to identify assets that may have been stripped or looted by the autocrat, or more commonly, members of his immediate family. I witnessed this process myself, twice being asked by newly installed governments in Central Eurasia to advise them on asset recovery measures focusing on the deposed former leader and his family.

More menacingly, human rights lawyers and international prosecutors may take a close look at the tools the deposed dictator used to stay in power: Did he torture? Did he authorize the shooting of adversaries? Did he cause his enemies to “disappear”? Was there a mass crackdown that resulted in dozens or hundreds of deaths? A trip to The Hague or another tribunal might be in his future. Slobodan Milosevic, who died while on trial there, and Charles Taylor, whose prosecution there is expected to wind up later this month, furnish examples that any decamping dictator would need to keep in mind. There’s no doubt that the endgame for Mubarak involves many of these concerns and backroom machinations. So, how can Mubarak protect himself if he eventually makes an escape from Cairo?

He’s taking the usual steps now. Start with his decision to install foreign intelligence chief and CIA confidant Omar Suleiman as vice president and constitutional successor. (Mubarak himself came to the presidency through this route; he had been Anwar Sadat’s vice president.) This comes close to matching what in the Russian-speaking world is known as the “Putin option,” a reference to the exit strategy adopted by a teetering Boris Yeltsin: Fearing possible retribution from opposition figures, Yeltsin opted to surrender power through a transitional period to a wily senior player in the intelligence community. In exchange, Yeltsin is said to have extracted a firm commitment from Putin that the full machinery of the Russian state would be mustered to protect him. There would be no criminal probes or inquiries, and no cooperation with foreigners who undertook the same. Yeltsin would be free to live his final days shuttling between Moscow and the French Riviera. Putin scrupulously kept his end of the bargain.

Please also read:

Is Uncle Sam fanning the flames of unrest in Egypt?

Pakistanis are a strange people. They hate America yet they love Green Cards and can pay any price to get them. Given an opportunity, every one of them will migrate to the land of opportunities. In spite of negative public perception about Americans, the USA has always rescued Pakistan in the time of need. However, Pakistan is not reciprocating the gesture when an American has landed himself in trouble by shooting two Pakistani boys and causing the death of a third young man. And look at the families of those killed. They have been offered money and Green Cards but they have rejected the offer. Pakistanis have one problem though; they are proud people in their own way. They can sell anything but blood of their loved ones.

According to media reports, the families had been offered Green Cards and money for withdrawing the case. Brother of a boy who was gunned down by Davis told the participants of a protest rally that the family did not want cash or any ‘rewards’. “We will not accept anything like that. I am ready to give money to the Americans if they hand over Davis,” he said.

A group of about 500 people including students, lawyers, doctors, and civil society members walked from Qartaba Chowk (where the incident had occurred) to the US Consulate. Once the protesters reached the Consulate they staged a sit-in and shouted slogans demanding a trial of the accused in the country. They demanded the Pakistani government not to hand over Davis to the US government, while asking that he be hanged “for causing the death of three innocent citizens”.

They said that they did not have any hopes from the government but were confident that the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) would ensure that justice is served.

All speakers, including family members of the deceased, also demanded CJP Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to take suo motu notice to ensure that the government does not “favour” the accused American. The protesters condemned the judicial magistrate’s court for granting bail to Davis for carrying illegal weapons.

The rally was led by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Lahore president, Mian Mahmoodul Rasheed.

Starting from Qartaba Chowk, the protesters reached the US Consulate after passing through Queen’s Road, The Mall, Race Course Road and Egerton Road. The participants shouted anti-US slogans through loud speakers installed on a mini truck. Announcements were also made to inviting passers-by to join the rally, which were somewhat successful.