“We want blood for blood.” Those were the last words of Shumaila Faheem, who committed suicide after swallowing poison pills on Sunday, February 6 as a protest affirming her belief that she would never receive justice for her husband's killing from the present regime.
Shumaila Faheem was the wife of Muhammad Faheem, one of the two civilians who was shot dead by U.S. citizen Raymond Davis on January 27 in Lahore, Pakistan.
Mrs. Faheem was distraught after the killing of her husband, whom she had been married to for just six months and with whom she was obviously very much in love.
She was taken to a hospital just after she took the pills, and doctors tried to save her life, but after 12 hours of fighting to keep her alive, she died.
Moments before ingesting the pills, she recorded her last statement with a local television channel, “I was shocked and decided to kill myself. We want blood for blood. More than one week has been passed but the government has failed to give me justice.”
According to the sources and the media reports, Mrs. Faheem feared the government would change its stance on the Raymond Davis issue, and believed the Pakistani government was preparing documents to give Davis diplomatic immunity. She did not want to see Davis’s release with her own eyes.
After the death of Mrs. Faheem, there were several protests against the government and the United States. The people asked the government for the trial of Raymond Davis.
The issue of Raymond Davis has been straining relations between the United States and Pakistan. According to the latest reports and news from well-placed sources, the government has actually prepared the documents to give Davis diplomatic immunity, but the suicide of Shumaila further complicated the issue.
The Pakistani government is in a tough situation. The public wants Davis tried and convicted. On the other hand, the United States continues its efforts to free its imprisoned citizen and is now reportedly issuing veiled threats.
The United States has postponed all bilateral contacts until Davis is freed. President Asif Ali Zardari’s visit to Washington, the next round of U.S.-Pakistan strategic dialogue and trilateral talks involving Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the United States have been put on hold until the situation is resolved.
Last week, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi postponed a visit to Munich, Germany, to attend an international security conference after U.S. officials informed Islamabad that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton might not be able to meet him because of this dispute.
If the Davis case is not wrapped up quickly and he is not set free from “illegal detention,” then even President Asif Ali Zardari might not be welcome in Washington on a state visit that has already been planned for next month.
According to a diplomatic source, a delay in Zardari’s visit to the U.S. “would send wrong signals around the world and would also embarrass him at home.” Similarly, “delaying the strategic dialogue would have serious implications,” he added.
The sources believe that while the Americans are unlikely to postpone the trilateral talks, “The U.S. decision to postpone all bilateral contacts can put Pakistan at a great disadvantage during the negotiations.”
The U.S. Congress is currently considering budget proposals for the next fiscal year, and the diplomatic row could affect $1.5 billion of annual assistance for Pakistan as well.
On Monday, the U.S. Ambassador Cameron P. Munter met with President Asif Ali Zardari and asked for the release of Raymond Davis, but Zardari still affirmed in his statement, “We should wait for the court verdict.” The President’s spokesperson said that in the meeting, “Pak-U.S. bilateral relations were discussed during the meeting.”
According to the U.S. Embassy spokesperson, Courtney Beale, during the meeting, “Ambassador Munter once again reiterated that the U.S. citizen was being illegally detained and that he enjoys diplomatic immunities under the Vienna Convention of Diplomatic Relations (1961).” Munter reaffirmed the U.S. stance and once again asked Pakistan to abide by its obligations under international and Pakistani laws and immediately release the American diplomat illegally detained in Lahore.
Photo: 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 Images