Washington/Islamabad, Feb 8 (IANS): Scaling up pressure on Pakistan for the release of Raymond Davis, arrested for fatally shooting two Pakistanis in Lahore, the US has put on hold high-level bilateral engagements with Islamabad.
The Barack Obama administration has suspended all high-level dialogue with key ally Pakistan, The Washington Post quoted US and Pakistani officials as saying.
Davis was arrested after he shot dead two people riding on a motorbike at a busy intersection in Lahore on Jan 27. He called up the US consulate after the shooting and a team rushed to help him. The team's vehicle collided with a motorcyclist, killing him. The issue has severely strained relations between Washington and Islamabad, the media report said.
The Obama administration has twice summoned Pakistani Ambassador Husain Haqqani for formal complaints and reiterated its demand that Pakistan must recognise Davis's diplomatic immunity and release him.
The State Department on Monday said 36-year-old Davis holds a diplomatic passport and is a member of the "technical and administrative staff" at the US Embassy in Islamabad "entitled to full criminal immunity in accordance with the Vienna Convention".
The administration and Congress, the statement said, "have repeatedly made clear at the highest levels that this matter must be resolved by the Pakistan government or it could impact other bilateral initiatives".
Diplomatic sources told the Dawn>/i> that the dispute could impact three major events planned this year - President Asif Ali Zardari's visit to Washington, the next round of US-Pakistan strategic dialogue and trilateral talks involving Pakistan, Afghanistan and the US.