Pakistan's Detention of U.S. Man Derails Talks

In this Jan. 28, 2011 file photo, Pakistani security officials escort Raymond Allen Davis, a U.S. consulate employee, center, to a local court in Lahore, Pakistan.
AP Photo/Hamza Ahmed
Raymond Davis
In this Jan. 28, 2011 file photo, Pakistani security officials escort Raymond Allen Davis, a U.S. consulate employee, center, to a local court in Lahore, Pakistan.
AP Photo/Hamza Ahmed

ISLAMABAD - A standoff between the U.S. and Pakistan over the continued detention of U.S. Embassy official Raymond Davis "needs to be quickly reversed before a significant and difficult to quickly reverse turmoil is unleashed," a senior Pakistani security told CBS News on Sunday, amid growing concern over an episode that some believe is undermining the country's security ties with the United States.

In the latest setback to U.S.-Pakistan relations, the Obama administration on Saturday canceled talks between foreign ministers of Pakistan, Afghanistan and the U.S. that were scheduled to take place in Washington, D.C. next week. A new date has not been announced.

The Pakistani security official, who spoke to CBS News on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to speak to journalists, said the talks were canceled as a direct consequence of the dispute over Davis.

Davis was arrested last month after killing two Pakistani men who he says were trying to attack him. A lawyer for Davis has asked that he be released under the principles of diplomatic immunity, but some Pakistani officials have disputed his diplomatic status.

A Pakistani government spokesman insisted on Sunday that the row would not completely thwart the talks between the two countries and Afghanistan. Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Basit said he was confident the three-way talks would continue. "The trilateral talks will be rescheduled in due course of time," Basit told the Associated Press. "It is important the trilateral process continues. We hope whenever held, (talks) will yield maximum results for peace and stability."

Davis was jailed in Lahore on Friday following a judge's ruling. He had previously been been kept in police custody for the weeks following the January 27 incident. Davis continues to insist that he fired upon the two men in self defense when they tried to rob him.

Aslam Tareen, the chief of police of Lahore, told reporters on Friday that he would recommend Davis to be charged with murder.

"The evidence shows that this was a cold-blooded murder. [Davis] did not give them [the assailants] any chance to survive. It was not a self-defence case," Tareen said.

On Sunday, the security official who spoke to CBS News said "the Davis episode is causing harm to relations between the United States and Pakistan" and added that "both countries have done their bit in messing up a situation that could have been managed much better."

According to the official, the Obama administration's public insistence on Davis' release "has created the impression in Pakistan that the US is out to bully us." But he conceded that Tareen's remarks "were harsh and should have preferably been part of evidence presented in court rather than made in public."

"Such events show a lack of maturity from Pakistan's side and will only further strain relations [with the US]," the official said.

An added complication to resolving the case has arisen from the circumstances surrounding Friday's departure of Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Pakistan's foreign minister, who was replaced in a cabinet shuffle least week. According to a senior Pakistani diplomat who spoke to CBS News on background, Qureshi said in a farewell speech to senior officials of the foreign ministry in Islamabad that "I upheld a principled position. Raymond Davis is not a diplomat and can not be given diplomatic immunity."

The Pakistani diplomat said that given the close U.S.-Pakistan ties, it is likely the Raymond Davis case will eventually be resolved, though with unpredictable consequences for carefully crafted relations between the two sides.

"The central issue is, how long will it take to resolve the case? The longer this case is dragged, the more tension will be added to US-Pakistan relationship," the diplomat said. "That is certainly not in Pakistan's best interest."