Pakistan frees CIA contractor after 'blood money' deal

One of the biggest crises between Pakistan and the United States has been defused after a Lahore court released Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor facing charges of double murder, after a blood-money settlement was paid to families of the victims.

While the release of Mr Davis cools tensions, after plunging relations to a low point, it is likely to inflame an already enraged Pakistani public and media. Islamist parties took to the streets in protest last night.

Each of the two men's families were paid $700,000 (£437,000) by the CIA, senior Pakistani officials told The Independent. Under Pakistan's laws, a Sharia-based provision allows the families of murder victims to forgive the accused in exchange for monetary compensation. The "blood money" laws have been invoked in a majority of murder cases in Pakistan.

The arrangement was the result of lengthy direct negotiations between the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the CIA. Last night, the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, denied that the American government had paid the money.

Mr Davis was a CIA contractor working in Pakistan without the ISI's authorisation, spying on the banned Pakistani militant outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba, an anti-Indian group that is held responsible for the November 2008 Mumbai attacks.

The blood money formula was first devised by Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's ambassador to the US, who is well versed in Islamic law. He discussed the proposal with US Senator John Kerry, who subsequently took it with him for discussions with Pakistani leaders. In late February, the CIA and the ISI opened direct negotiations with each other, discussing how to reach a settlement. By circumventing the issue of diplomatic immunity, the blood-money formula helped the Pakistani government to save face, said Pakistani officials.

Washington had always said Mr Davis enjoyed immunity from prosecution under the Vienna Convention. The Lahore court disputed this, ruling last week that he had no immunity.

The victims of the families were persuaded to accept the compensation by the ISI, said a senior Pakistani official. Some family members had earlier said they refused to accept compensation. By getting them to do otherwise, the Pakistan government was able to see through its insistence that Pakistani courts be used to settle the matter. The Punjab provincial government was on board.

Amid the negotiations, the ISI was also able to secure an unprecedented two-year extension for its chief, Lieutenant-General Ahmed Shuja Pasha. The message to the civilian government, which had already given army chief General Ashfaq Kayani a three-year extension, was that it would not be prudent to switch spy chiefs during such a crisis. General Pasha had been due to retire in two days.

The Saudis were also approached to play a mediatory role, but refused to do so, a senior Pakistani official said. It was hoped they could cool tensions between the CIA and ISI, ask the religious right which has been demonstrating on the streets to relax, and urge the Punjab government headed by the brother of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, a key Saudi ally, to co-operate.

Mr Davis is a former special-forces soldier who had worked with Blackwater in Iraq, and arrived in Pakistan in October 2009. The role of contractors in Pakistan was at the heart of the dispute between the CIA and the ISI. It is unclear whether the ISI was able to secure its demand that the CIA withdraw all contractors from Pakistan.

The contractors are a part of the CIA's vast covert war inside Pakistan. Though it protests in public, Pakistan has quietly allowed the CIA to routinely fire drone missiles targeting militants in the tribal areas along the Afghan border. But the agencies clashed over the use of contractors who were spying on militant outfits known to have longstanding ties with the ISI.

Suggested Topics
News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker