Pakistanis Keep American In Custody Despite U.S. Pressure


U.S. Declines To Provide Details About Ray Davis

Davis has become a political and intelligence football: he is caught between a federal government ruled by the Pakistan People's party and a Punjab government led by the opposition, which is more skeptical of U.S. policies; and he is caught in an intelligence game because he killed two men working for Pakistan's premiere intelligence agency, according to four Pakistani officials.

The U.S. continues to decline to answer questions about Davis' precise job in Pakistan, saying only he was a "member of the administrative and technical staff" of the Islamabad embassy and traveled on a diplomatic passport.

But Pakistani government officials are beginning to chafe at the way the U.S. government is going about that. They complain that U.S. pressure is disproportionately falling on them and not on the country's powerful military and intelligence service.

A congressional delegation from the House Armed Services committee visited Pakistan last weekend and raised the possibility that Davis' continuing detention would threaten military aid, according to a committee aide. But a senior Pakistani military official denied that was true.

"There were no threats," he said casually, shrugging his shoulders.

But there have been threats delivered to government officials, and the larger problem, those officials say, is that the pressure is boxing them in -- because it is eroding overall support for the United States.

Speaking in private drawing room conversations or in high-end coffee shops, even some of those who support the United States say they feel like they can't support Davis' release, especially not publicly. In their minds, the ambiguous nature of Davis' job, his killing two Pakistanis in broad daylight, and the wide coverage given to U.S. anger in Pakistan has shrunk the public acceptance of all U.S. policies in Pakistan.

'More Aggressive Anti-American Sentiments'

"I think the response to the U.S. anger is more aggressive anti-American sentiments," said Ahmed Malik, sitting at the upscale Gloria Jean's coffee in Lahore. He and his friends said the U.S. was "bullying" Pakistan. "I think people feel it's totally unjustified for the Americans to ask for a man who's done something like this" to be released, Malik said.

Their increasing skepticism of U.S. diplomacy was echoed by the senior military official, who discussed Davis' detention on the condition of anonymity.

"It should disturb the U.S. when the liberal class, on the account of U.S. attitude and bullying… is showing a lot of frustration, anger, reservations," the official told ABC News.

He argued that the U.S.' repeated and public condemnations of Davis' detention was decreasing its support across Pakistan -- and that would inevitably decrease the military's ability to support U.S. policies.

"The U.S. should help the state and the foreign office rather than putting out one statement [calling for Davis' release] after another. It will multiply the public anger," he said. "No military can take a position that is contrary to the public perception."

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And if the anger increased, he argued, the U.S. was risking its already weak popularity among the public and among its most vocal Pakistani supporters.

"If that space is being lost," the official said, "then it's the last nail in the coffin."

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