Tue, Feb 08, 2011 - Page 5 News List

Pakistani woman commits suicide after US shooting


The wife of a Pakistani man shot and killed by a US official committed suicide by eating rat poison on Sunday, explaining before she died that she was driven to act by fears the American would be freed without trial, a doctor said.

The US has demanded Pakistani authorities release the American, saying he shot and killed two armed men in self-defense when they attempted to rob him as he drove his car in the eastern city of Lahore. He was arrested on Jan. 27 and the US has said he has diplomatic immunity and is being illegally detained.

The shootings have stoked anti-US sentiment in Pakistan, feelings that could be further inflamed by Shumaila Kanwal’s suicide. She died several hours after being rushed to a hospital, said Ali Naqi, the doctor in Faisalabad city who treated her.

“I do not expect any justice from this government,” Kanwal said in a statement recorded by the doctor before she died. “That is why I want to kill myself.”

Kanwal also spoke to reporters after arriving at the hospital, saying: “I want blood for blood.”

“The way my husband was shot, his killer should be shot in the same fashion,” she said.

The case puts Pakistan’s government in a difficult position. The government relies on the US for billions of dollars in aid, but is wary of being seen as doing Washington’s bidding. The US is widely unpopular in Pakistan, in part because of its undeclared campaign of drone missile strikes along the northwest border with Afghanistan.

The government could face charges of being a US lackey if it hands Raymond Davis over to the US, but refusing to do so risks harming a relationship with a vital ally.

Pakistani officials have avoided definitive statements on Davis’ level of diplomatic clearance and whether he qualifies for immunity.

Federal officials have said the decision on his fate is up to courts in Punjab Province, where the shootings occurred, but provincial officials have said the federal government must decide whether Davis has immunity. The two governments are controlled by rival political parties, which has further complicated the case.

Besides the two men who were shot dead, a bystander was also killed when he was struck by a US car rushing to the scene to help Davis. Police have said they want to question the Americans suspected in that death as well.

Relatives of the men who were allegedly shot by Davis have participated in several protests in Lahore, including one on Thursday outside the US consulate where demonstrators shouted “Hang the American killer!”

Some commentators have tried to paint the two men as innocent Pakistanis rather than thieves who were attempting to rob Davis, but the US embassy has said the men had criminal backgrounds and had robbed money and valuables at gunpoint from a Pakistani citizen in the same area minutes before the shootings.

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