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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Raymond Davis Issue, American Consular Carmela Prepares For Sacrifice




ISLAMABAD: The second high-profile casualty of the Raymond David fiasco, after Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, appears to be the US Consul General in Lahore Carmela Conroy who, sources say, has been told to start packing for home.

Sources close to Western diplomats say Washington is unhappy with the performance of Carmela, who is likely to be recalled in the next couple of weeks. The US Embassy, however, denies such reports, though not in very strong words. “That’s not true,” said the embassy spokesperson, Courtney Beale, when approached for her version in this respect.
The News has heard the same reports from two different sources known for their close links with Western diplomatic missions in Islamabad. They say the US diplomats in Islamabad and Lahore are under intense pressure from Washington and have also been reprimanded for their failure in arm-twisting the ruling elite of Pakistan on the Raymond Davis issue.
Carmela stands first in the firing line and “she has been asked to pack up,” said a diplomatic source. She won’t be recalled immediately though, the source went on to say, and this process may take 2-3 weeks.
Carmela held a string of meetings with the top officials of the Punjab government, pressing for the release of Raymond but in vain. According to an official, the Raymond issue is largely being handled by the National Security Adviser to President Obama and the State Department had no emphatic say in this regard.
Carmela has served in Afghanistan and Japan before assuming office in Lahore. “She is sensible, sociable, and professional.” This is how a Lahore-based journalist spoke of her. “Unlike her predecessors who would mostly focus on political meetings, she also attends social gatherings, pays visits to fashion shows and other places.”
Comparing Carmela to her predecessor, Brian D. Hunt, one journalist said the latter was also very frank and social but with too much focus on politics. The US Consulate General under Brian’s watch was the main source of information for Lahore-based journalists on the likely no confidence move against Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani last year.
“Brian would even advise the major opposition parties in this respect and used to say the motion could succeed provided they moved it jointly,” said a senior journalist, adding this showed Washington’s thinking that it was not bothered if the PPP government was toppled.

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