Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif played the main role IN RELEASE OF Raymond Davis

The Chief of the Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, through the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and some influential families of Lahore, played a key role in ‘convincing’ the families of Faizan and Faheem that Raymond Davis would be released in any case and they would get nothing, so the best course was to accept money and forgive the American killer.

The ISPR director general, who is also the spokesman of the ISI and Pakistan Army, Major General Athar Abbas, on being asked told The News: “I am completely unaware whether General Kayani or ISI played any role in convincing the families in Raymond Davis case.” General Athar, however, did not deny the role of General Kayani and the ISI in remaining continuously in touch with the families of Faizan and Faheem for the last two months.

On the other hand, Shahbaz Sharif categorically denied that his departure for London on the D-day was part of the deal. He said that he never contacted the families of Faizan and Faheem to convince them to accept the money. Shahbaz also said that his government had arrested and detained Raymond. He tried to give the impression that his visit to London was in connection with the heart attack suffered by Mian Nawaz Sharf. The Punjab government sources, however, confirmed that Shahbaz’s tour to London was planned in indecent haste.

Though there were comments that the federal government also played a role in convincing the families but sources privy to the developments confided to The News that despite having the utmost desire to do so, the federal government was unable to play any role in the whole episode and the whole credit went to the Pakistan Army, ISI and Shahbaz Sharif.

A senior PML-N leader privy to the developments told The News that he was unaware why the Pakistan Army and the ISI were so much interested in releasing Raymond Davis but knew that Shahbaz Sharif was active and used his old friends in the city to convince the families after some important personalities from Saudi Arabia asked Shahbaz Sharif to get Raymond released at the earliest. On the other hand, a representative of the Saudi Embassy in Islamabad told The News on Tuesday that the Saudi government had nothing to do with the Raymond Davis case in Pakistan.

Credible sources told The News that in the second week of February, Shahbaz Sharif received instructions from some of his foreign friends and he engaged some influential personalities of Lahore to convince the families of the deceased Faizan and Faheem to accept the money. The same influential friends of Shahbaz Sharif, according to these sources, also persuaded the leadership of PML-Q and JUI-F not to create any problems in the resolution of the issue.

Sources said following the suggestions of his foreign friends, Shahbaz Sharif instructed Punjab’s Law Minister Rana Sanaullah not to officially inform the federal interior ministry about the names of four Americans who were revealed by Raymond Davis on the first day of investigation, so they could not be put on the Exit Control List and thus could leave Pakistan easily.

Rana Sanaullah did the same and later he had to admit that he had made a mistake. Rana Sanaullah, after mounting public pressure to arrest the killers of Ebad-ur-Rehman, sent an official letter to the interior ministry not to allow the four Americans involved in killing of Ebad-ur-Rehman to leave but refused to give the names of these American as per the directions of Shahbaz Sharif.

Following the willingness of the families to accept the money, sources say, Shahbaz Sharif deputed Rana Sanaullah to supervise the whole operation of release of Raymond Davis and left for London. Credible sources of the Punjab government confirmed to The News that during this whole period, officials of ISI were in constant touch with Shahbaz Sharif and the families of Faizan and Faheem. The officials of ISI also remained present in all the meetings held between Shahbaz Sharif’s representatives and the families.

It is worth mentioning that President Zardari and an important and powerful federal minister did their best to get Davis free but their efforts were thwarted by the Punjab government. This was appreciated by the media. However, informed sources told this scribe that the American officials knew who played what role and were thankful to Shahbaz Sharif for his services.

Senior PML-N leader Siddiqul Farooq, while talking to this scribe, said that according to his knowledge, there were reports that the Saudi government played a vital role in the resolution of the Raymond Davis issue. Siddique said the heirs of both Faizan and Faheem were taken to Saudi Arabia and were paid most part of the agreed compromised amount. He said that rest of the amount was paid today (Wednesday) in the courtroom. Siddique, however, didn’t clarify who was the real person who acted on the orders of Saudis in Lahore and pressurised the families to accept the compromised money. Some leaders also claim that chief justice of Lahore High Court was also on board and he acted on ‘suggestion’ of Shahbaz Sharif. However, The News couldn’t verify the same from independent sources but it is on record that chief justice LHC on Tuesday lifted the ban on inclusion of Raymond in the ECL.

Saudi crimes AGAINST humanity!!!

All but one of the 9-11 terrorists were Saudi Wahabis. Bin Laden is Saudi He is financed by the Wahabi Saudis. The Wahabis financed the Taliban. They finance all the Wahabi mosques teaching extremism and terror around the world. All the world tyrants and mass murderers find a welcoming refuge in Saudi Arabia after they are thrown out by their people. Jaffar Numeri of Sudan, Siad Beri of Somalia, Idi Amin of Uganda, NAWAZ SHARIF of Pakistan, Bin Ali of Tunisia, Mubarak of Egypt have all found a welcoming sanctuary in Saudi Arabia when no country on earth would be associated with such criminals and lowlife thugs.


Middle East rallies support Bahraini protesters

People in Lebanon, Iraq and Saudi Arabia have strongly condemned the Saudi-led invasion of Bahrain and the increased crackdown on anti-government protesters.

Thousands of supporters of Lebanon's Amal movement and Hezbollah gathered on Wednesday outside the UN offices in central Beirut in a show of solidarity with anti-government protesters in Bahrain, AFP reported.

They voiced their opposition against Saudi Arabia's military interference in the Persian Gulf country. They also called for an end to Bahrain's brutal crackdown on its own people in the capital of Manama with the help of Saudi and UAE forces.

Many Lebanese officials and political representatives participated in the protest.

In Iraq, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, who rarely intervenes publicly in politics, called on Manama to stop suppressing unarmed civilians. Ayatollah Sistani stressed the need for solving problems through peaceful methods.

Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, too, criticized the foreign military intervention in Bahrain, while followers of influential cleric Moqtada al-Sadr took to the streets of Baghdad to condemn the massacre in the tiny Persian Gulf island kingdom.

The intervention by Bahrain's neighbors "will contribute toward complicating the situation in the region, in a way that instead of solving it could lead to inflaming sectarian tension," Maliki's office quoted the prime minister as saying.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people in Saudi Arabia's eastern cities of Qatif and Sbehat staged street rallies to condemn their government's deployment of troops to Bahrain.

Leading Saudi Shia cleric Sheikh Hassan al-Saffar voiced "dismay over events in Bahrain -- bloodshed, violation of sanctities and the intimidation of the people."

"I appeal to (Persian Gulf Arab) leaders ... to act and call for an end to the bloodshed and violence in Bahrain and to make every effort to address the current crisis towards a dialogue and a political solution," Saffar said in a statement.

Yemen forces kill 5 schoolgirls

Yemen security forces have shot and killed five schoolgirls in the country's Taiz, one of the major cities in Yemen, a report says.
Earlier in the day, Yemeni forces killed an anti-government protester and injured 200 others in the Red Sea city of Hudaydah with live and rubber bullets, tear gas, clubs and daggers, a doctor who treated victims said.

Bahrain unrest

AS the Arab movement for change shows no sign of abating, all eyes seem to be fixed on the small Gulf kingdom of Bahrain. The island has been rocked by nearly continuous anti-government protests — some deadly — for the last month or so. Bahraini security forces uprooted a protest camp at Pearl Square — Manama’s answer to Cairo’s Tahrir Square — on Wednesday in which several protesters were reportedly killed as the king declared a three-month state of emergency a day earlier. At least one Pakistani was also repor-tedly killed in violence earlier in the week. But the arrival of a Gulf Cooperation Council military contingent on Monday threatens to escalate tensions. As nearly 2,000 Saudi and Emirati troops rumbled down the King Fahd Causeway into Bahrain from Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, the move attracted criticism from within Bahrain as well as from the region, with the Bahraini opposition calling the foreign troops an “occupation force”. While the six GCC states — under a common security framework — can call in the Peninsula Shield when a member state is threatened by military aggression, this is the first time the force has been deployed to deal with internal unrest.

What is happening in Bahrain is purely a domestic issue. The opposition, mainly made up of a dis-enfranchised Shia majo-rity, is dissatisfied with the way in which the Sunni royal family is running the country and wants representative government as well as to secure the social, political and economic rights of the majority. Hence foreign military intervention, even within the framework of the GCC, is a questionable solution to the problem. It risks internationalising a local issue and should Iran get involved (it has denounced the intervention), the conflict is likely to stir up sectarian passions across the Muslim world. Interestingly, many Arab governments have denounced Muammar Qadhafi’s brutal suppression of the Libyan opposition, while the international community has mooted the idea of a ‘no-fly zone’ over the North African country. Yet the silence over Bahrain is deafening, where Arab and most Muslim governments, as well as the US, seem to be rallying behind the Bahraini regime. Pakistan’s religious parties are also conspicuous by their silence.

Bahrain tries to erase protest camps euronews

Amnesty Intl. tells West to stop arming Bahrain

Seventeenth of February, 2011. Bahraini security forces attack protesters in Pearl Square, in the capital Manama.

Most are protesting peacefully, many are volunteer nurses helping attend to the wounded.

But a new report released by Amnesty International has called the use of force by police that day “unwarranted” and in breach of UN standards.

Among the most shocking violence was that used against medical staff. Paramedics told Amnesty how they were dragged from their ambulances and beaten by police when they tried to pick up injured civilians. They said security forces threw tear gas canisters into a medical tent run by volunteers on Pearl square.

According to the United Nations, use of force by security services should be exceptional, and used only when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life. Amnesty International believes that this was not the case in Pearl Square in February.

Amnesty is also asking Governments in Europe and the US to stop sending weapons to Bahrain and review their arms trading policies, as there's a clear risk of human rights violations. American and French tear gas canisters and rubber ammunition were found at Pearl Square after the attacks in February.

The Amnesty report comes as a three month state of emergency has been declared by the King of Bahrain, who has brought in Saudi troops to help clear protesters. Since the Bahraini uprising started around a month ago approximately two hundred people have been killed in clashes with security forces. Bahraini forces say they are trying to create stability in the country.

Bahrain arrests two opposition leaders

Bahrain, which is facing month-long anti-government protests, has arrested two Shia opposition leaders, a report says.
Bahrain security forces arrested Hassan Mushaima of the Haq Movement and Ibrahim Sharif, head of the Waad Society, late Wednesday.

US calls for political solution in Bahrain

Around 300 Tunisians protest ahead of Clinton visit

Around 300 Tunisians held a protest in the capital on Wednesday against an imminent visit to their country by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, witnesses said.

The demonstrators gathered in Avenue Bourguiba, the tree-lined boulevard in Tunis which was a focal point of the mass protests that ousted president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali on January 14.

Some of them chanted "No to U.S. meddling in Tunisia's aff airs" and "Tunisia free, U.S. out."

A military helicopter buzzed overhead as security forces looked on.

Clinton was in Egypt her first visit there since long-time ally Hosni Mubarak was toppled last month, and was due to arrive in Tunis later on Wednesday.

She is expected to meet Tunisia's interim authorities on Thursday to express her support for the transition to democratic rule.

Washington, like other Western governments, is eager to present itself as a partner to the mass protest movements that swept Mubarak and Ben Ali from power, despite its long support for both authoritarian rulers.

Saudi Shi'ites protest

Saudi Shi'ites marched in the kingdom's oil-producing east Wednesday, demanding the release of prisoners and voicing support for Shi'ites in nearby Bahrain, an activist and witnesses said.

One Saudi Shi'ite activist said hundreds attended several protests including one in the eastern region's main Shi'ite center, Qatif, to show their backing for Bahraini Shi'ites who are protesting against the Sunni royal family.

Bahraini forces used tanks and helicopters to drive protesters from the streets Wednesday, clearing a camp that had become a symbol of the Shi'ite Muslim uprising and drawing rare criticism from their U.S. allies.

Leading Saudi Shi'ite cleric Sheikh Hassan al-Saffar voiced "dismay over events in Bahrain -- bloodshed, violation of sanctities and the intimidation of the people."

"I appeal to (Gulf Arab) leaders ... to act and call for an end to the bloodshed and violence in Bahrain and to make every effort to address the current crisis toward a dialogue and a political solution," Saffar said in a statement.

The activist said there was a large number of anti-riot troops at the protests. "In Qatif, security shot in the air to disperse the protest," he told Reuters.

A witness who declined to be identified said the Qatif march ended peacefully. "However there were shots fired in the air to disperse the crowds but the demo continued for about an hour and a half ... There were no injuries or detentions as far as I could see," he said.

"They were calling for freeing their prisoners and some were calling for civil society and more freedoms ... Some were also showing their solidarity for the people in Bahrain."

Demonstrators shouted slogans against the sending of joint regional Peninsula Shield forces to Bahrain by Gulf states including Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, and the United Arab Emirates.

"People were demanding the withdrawal of the Peninsula force and called on Saudi Arabia to withdraw from Bahrain," another witness said, adding that two police helicopters hovered above the demonstration.

Saudi Arabia's minority Shi'ites complain of discrimination, saying they often struggle to get senior government jobs and benefits available to other citizens.

The government of Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy that usually does not tolerate public dissent, denies the charges.

Last month, King Abdullah unveiled handouts worth an estimated $37 billion to ease social pressures and the Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, said this month that dialogue, rather than protests, should bring about change.

Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally, has escaped protests like those across the Arab world, but some dissent has built up as unrest has spread in neighboring Yemen, Bahrain, Jordan and Oman.

Web activists had slated March 11 as the first day for mass protests around the country in favor of democratic government and a constitutional rather than absolute monarchy.

But a religious ruling banning demonstrations and a heavy police crackdown appeared to have intimidated most potential protesters.

Saudi invasion threatening

Iran's defense minister warns that Saudi Arabia's invasion of Bahrain will heighten tensions and deteriorate stability and security in the entire region.

“Should such miscalculated and legally-unjustified actions become a norm, the region would turn into a center for incendiarism, hostility and conflict,” said Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi.

Led by the Riyadh regime, Bahrain's fellow members of the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council -- Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar -- have dispatched armed forces to the Persian Gulf island to assist Manama in its crackdown on nationwide protests against the Sunni-led monarchy's suppression of the majority Shia population.

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has also blasted the incursion as an effort to suppress the Bahraini citizens.

“This military invasion was a foul and doomed experience,” he said on Wednesday.

Demonstrators in Bahrain have been demanding the ouster of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa as well as constitutional reforms, with hundreds camping out peacefully in the capital's Pearl Square since February 14th.

The square, which has turned into the epicenter for the rallies, is now known to many as 'the Martyrs Roundabout,' in memory of several protesters that died during Manama-ordered suppression of the popular uprising.

Hundreds of people have also been wounded in violent crackdown on anti-government movements by the security forces. More than 1,000 people have been reported hospitalized mostly for inhaling tear gas.

Meanwhile, Bahrain's opposition groups have described the invasion of the country by the Persian Gulf Arab nations as an 'undeclared war' on the Bahraini people.

Iranian officials and lawmakers have also reacted strongly to the recent invasion of Bahrain by forces from neighboring Persian Gulf states led by Saudi Arabia. Iranian lawmaker Hossein Naghavi has emphasized that Saudi Arabia has waged a war on Bahrain against all international regulations without any reaction by the United Nations.

He warned Riyadh that Tehran would exhaust everything within its means to thwart the ongoing violence against the Bahraini populace.

Iran's president held the United States responsible for the military effort. “Regional nations will hold the US government liable for such an atrocious behavior,” he said.

The US has refused to call the deployment of foreign troops in Bahrain as an invasion. "This is not an invasion of a country," White House spokesman, Jay Carney asserted, AFP reported on Monday.

The US spokesman also recently defended Washington's late response to the bloody crackdown on anti-government protesters and revolutionary forces in Libya.

Reactions in Tehran comes as Iranian university students issued a statement announcing their readiness to be dispatched to the Persian Gulf island to counter what they have referred to as 'crimes committed by Saudi and Bahraini rulers.'

Aims of Tahrir Square revolt must be met

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton brought the Obama administration's appeal for real democratic reform in Egypt to Cairo's Tahrir Square on Wednesday. She waded into crowds at the symbolic heart of the uprising that toppled the country's longtime autocratic leader last month and urged Egypt's transitional leaders not to allow the revolution to fizzle or be compromised by extremists.

Clinton heaped praise on the anti-government demonstrators whose peaceful protests in the central square ousted President Hosni Mubarak and said she hoped people everywhere would look back on the revolt and regard it as "one of the most important historic turning points" in the Middle East.
"The pyramids are magnificent but nowhere near as magnificent as what you have already done," she told American and local Egyptian employees at the U.S. Embassy. She called on them to help protect the achievement so that "no one is permitted to hijack this revolution, no one is permitted to turn the clock back on this revolution, no one is permitted to claim it for only one group of Egyptians and exclude other Egyptians."
"That will be the challenge," she said. "And we will help in any way possible."
Surrounded by a heavy contingent of U.S. and Egyptian security guards, Clinton took an unscheduled 15-minute stroll through the square, smiling, waving and shaking hands with bystanders who thronged her. Many thanked her for visiting the epicenter of the anti-government demonstrations while others fought for a glimpse or a photo of the secretary of state, the highest level U.S. official to visit Egypt since Mubarak stepped down on Feb. 11.
"It's just a great reminder of the power of the human spirit and universal desire for freedom and human rights and democracy," Clinton told reporters as she navigated the square. "It's just thrilling to see where this happened."
Clinton's two-day visit to Egypt is aimed at encouraging the Egyptian people and their transitional leaders to hold true to the ideals of democratic reforms that propelled the revolution. Her trip underscores U.S. concern that gains made since Mubarak's ouster may be lost to impatience or to the rise of an extremist or authoritarian new leadership.
Civic groups have raised fears that the timing of a weekend referendum on constitutional amendments and June parliamentary elections followed by a presidential vote are too rushed to permit a true representative democracy to emerge. Some believe the sequencing won't give secular opposition groups enough time to organize into credible political parties.
The most organized opposition movement in the county is the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist party long banned by Mubarak. The brotherhood took a low-key role in the initial protests against Mubarak but is now seen as moving to take advantage of the space opened by the protesters in Tahrir Square.
Without mentioning any political parties, Clinton said the revolution must remain inclusive and urged Egyptians to build on the euphoria Tahrir Square spawned by embracing universal values.
"It was very exciting and moving for me to go to Tahrir Square and to have some sense of what those amazing days must have been like here in Cairo," she told interim Prime Minister Essam Sharaf at his office.
"I am so looking forward to helping in any way that we can in the transformation and all the work that needs to be done," she said. "There is so much work to be done, but the United States stands ready to help in every way possible to translate what happened in Tahrir Square into (the) new reality of Egypt."
Clinton then met with the chief of Egypt's powerful Armed Forces Supreme Council, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi. She was also meeting Amr Moussa, a former top diplomat who is now head of the Arab League and is running for president in Egypt.
On Tuesday, Clinton unveiled details of an economic support package aimed at helping to create badly needed jobs, mainly for Egypt's exploding youth population, and spur foreign investment. In addition to an already announced $150 million being redirected to the transition and the financial sector, the aid will include tens of billions of dollars in credits and private-sector loans as well as the expansion of Egyptian facilities eligible to send duty-free exports to the United States.
While trying to help Egypt resolve some of its most critical economic woes, Clinton pleaded with Egypt's transitional authorities, as well as private civic groups that played a leading role in the anti-Mubarak protests, to embrace reform guided by two key ideas: non-violence and national unity.
She applauded an announcement Tuesday of a further dismantling of the hated state security apparatus and said Egypt now needs to prepare for free, fair elections to produce "leaders that will be able to respond to (your) aspirations."
Clinton travels later Wednesday to Tunisia, where she will be bringing the same message. The success of Tunisia's anti-government protests in January fueled similar revolts across the Arab world.

Clinton: Bahrain, Gulf allies, 'on the wrong track'

Clinton, State Dept. make rare criticism of Bahrain; riot police clear protest camp at Pearl roundabout; 3 police, 3 protesters killed.US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a television interview on Wednesday Bahrain and its allies who have sent troops to help it put down anti-government demonstrations are on the wrong track.

"We find what's happening in Bahrain alarming. We think that there is no security answer to the aspirations and demands of the demonstrators," Clinton told CBS in an interview, urging Bahrain to negotiate a political agreement with demonstrators.

"We have also made that very clear to our Gulf partners who are part of the Gulf Cooperation Council, four of whose members have sent troops to support the Bahraini government. They are on the wrong track," Clinton added according to a US pool reporter who attended the interview.

The US State Department also released a message on twitter, saying "We object to excessive force and violence against demonstrators; we raised our concerns directly today to Bahrain."

"We continue to believe the solution is credible political reform, not security crackdowns that threaten to exacerbate the situation," the State Department said in additional Twitter messages, originally released in Arabic.

A member of parliament from the largest Shi'ite Muslim opposition group denounced the government assault as a declaration of war on the Shi'ite community.

"This is war of annihilation. This does not happen even in wars and this is not acceptable," Abdel Jalil Khalil, the head of Wefaq's 18-member parliament bloc, said.

A protest called by the youth movement, which had been leading protests at the Pearl roundabout, failed to materialize after the military banned all marches and gatherings and imposed a curfew from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. across a large swathe of Manama.

Gulf Arab ruling families are Sunni and analysts say the intervention of their forces in Bahrain might provoke a response from Iran, which supports Shi'ite groups in Iraq and Lebanon.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Bahrain's crackdown was "unjustifiable and irreparable".

"Today, we witness the degree of pressure imposed on the majority of people in Bahrain," he said according to state TV.

"What has happened is bad, unjustifiable and irreparable."

Release of CIA contractor prompts Pakistan clashes

Associated Press

Police fired tear gas against protesters burning tires outside a U.S. consulate in Pakistan after the release of a CIA contractor who killed two Pakistani men.

The clashes Wednesday in Lahore involved around 200 people. There were small protests in other main cities as well.

Police made several arrests in Lahore and struck other people with batons, according to witnesses.

Raymond Allen Davis was released earlier Wednesday after the United States paid $2.3 million in "blood money" to the victims' families, a lawyer for the families has said.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) - A CIA contractor who shot and killed two Pakistani men was freed from prison on Wednesday after the United States paid $2.34 million in "blood money" to the victims' families, Pakistani officials said, defusing a dispute that had strained ties between Washington and Islamabad.

In what appeared to be carefully choreographed end to the diplomatic crisis, the U.S. Embassy said the Justice Department had opened an investigation into the killings on Jan. 27 by Raymond Allen Davis. It thanked the families for "their generosity" in pardoning Davis, but did not mention any money changing hands.

The killings and detention of Davis triggered a fresh wave of anti-American sentiment in Pakistan and were testing an alliance seen as key to defeating al-Qaida and ending the war in Afghanistan.

The tensions were especially sharp between the CIA and Pakistan's powerful Inter Services Intelligence Agency, which says it did not know Davis was operating in the country. One ISI official said it had backed the "blood money" deal. There appeared to be little public backlash as night fell in Pakistan.

Davis claimed he acted in self-defense when he killed the two men on the street in the eastern city of Lahore.

The United States had insisted Davis was covered by diplomatic immunity, but the weak government here, facing intense pressure from Islamist parties, sections of the media and the general public, refused to acknowledge the protection.

The payment of "blood money", sanctioned under Pakistani law, had been suggested as the best way to end the dispute.

Given the high stakes for both nations, few imagined either side would allow it to derail the relationship. The main question was how long it would take to reach a deal.

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said Davis was charged with murder Wednesday in a court that was convened in a prison in Lahore, but was immediately pardoned by the families of the victims after the payment.

Reporters were not allowed to witness the proceedings.

"This all happened in court and everything was according to law," he said. "The court has acquitted Raymond Davis. Now he can go anywhere."

Raja Muhammad Irshad, a laywer for the families, said 19 male and female relatives appeared in court to accept the money.

He said each told the court "they were ready to accept the blood money deal without pressure and would have no objection if the court acquitted Raymond Davis."

Representatives of the families had previously said they would refuse any money.

Some media reports said the some of the families had been given permission to live in the United States.

Irshad said that was not discussed in court.

The case dominated headlines and television shows in Pakistan, with pundits using it to whip up hatred against the already unpopular United States. While the case played out in court, many analysts said that the dispute was essentially one between the CIA and the ISA, and that they would need to resolve their differences before Davis could be freed.

One ISI official said CIA director Leon Panetta and ISI chief Gen. Shuja Pasha talked in mid-February to smooth out the friction between the two spy agencies. A U.S. official confirmed that the phone call took place.

Pasha demanded the U.S. identify "all the Ray Davises working in Pakistan, behind our backs," the official said.

He said Panetta agreed "in principle" to declare such employees, the official said, but would not confirm if the agency had done so.

A second ISI official said as a result of that conversation the ISI - which along with the army is a major power center in the country - then backed an effort to help negotiate the "blood money." The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not allowed to give their names to the media.

CIA contractor freed after Pakistani families reportedly paid $1.4M

A Pakistani court has acquitted an American CIA contractor of two murder charges and freed him after the victims' family received "blood money" and pardoned him.

Raymond Davis, 36, had been charged with shooting to death two men in Lahore in January during what he said was an attempted armed robbery.

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said he has been released, according to DawnNews.

"He has been released from jail. Now it is up to him. He can go wherever he wants," the provincial law minister said.

In pardoning Davis, the relatives acknowledged to the court today that they had received "blood money," or compensation for the deaths, a common practice in Pakistan for settling disputes.

The dispute had touched off a diplomatic row with the United States, which claimed Davis was protected by diplomatic immunity.

Bahrain Shiite Clerics Warn Of 'Massacre,' Seek Help

Top Bahraini Shiite clerics sought Muslim and international help on Tuesday as they warned that anti-regime protesters will be targeted with a "massacre."

"We urge our Hawzah (Shiite religious schools) ... the Muslim World League, and the UN Security Council ... to immediately intervene to rescue those targeted by this catastrophe," a statement said.

They warned that a "horrible massacre is expected at (Manama's) Pearl Square against the people of this (Shiite) sect, only for peacefully demanding their rights."

In a statement titled "An appeal to help the people of Bahrain," the five clerics said their community was in danger.

"We feel that the fate of this sect is in danger," they said, claiming also that the government of Shiite-majority Bahrain, which is ruled by a Sunni dynasty, was trying to stoke sectarian tension.

"Everyone should know that there is no animosity between Sunnis and Shiites in Bahrain, and that the government is trying to create this animosity," they said.

They claimed that security forces in plain clothes were "firing in Shiite villages and areas," after a medic claimed that at least 200 people were shot by gunmen in the Shiite village of Sitra, south of Manama.

Bahrain forces attack protesters

Casualties reported as security forces drive out pro-democracy protesters from capital's Pearl Roundabout.

Security forces in Bahrain have driven out pro-democracy protesters from the Pear Roundabout in the capital Manama.
Helicopters hovered overhead as troops backed by tanks stormed the site - the focal point of weeks-long anti-government protests in the tiny kingdom - early on Wednesday, an Al Jazeera correspondent said.

Multiple explosions were heard and smoke was seen billowing over central Manama.

Our correspondent said the police backed by the military attacked the protesters from all sides and used tear gas canisters to disperse the crowd.

Protesters, intimidated by the shear numbers of security forces, retreated from the roundabout, he said.

Hospital sources said two protesters had been killed and hundreds of others injured in the offensive. The Reuters news agency said three policemen had also been killed.

Ali Al Aswad, a member of the opposition Wefaq party, told Al Jazeera that the government used Apache helicopters to shoot at peaceful protesters.

He said the situation was very bad and Bahrain was heading towards a disaster.

"The security forces are killing the people, we call upon UN to help us," Aswad said.

State of emergency

The move by the security forces came a day after a state of emergency was declared on the island and at least two people were killed in clashes in the Shia suburb of Sitra outside Manama.

An order by the king "authorised the commander of Bahrain''''s defence forces to take all necessary measures to protect the safety of the country and its citizens," a statement read out on television on Tuesday said.Hundreds of Saudi-led troops entered Bahrain on Monday as part of a Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) initiative to help protect government facilities there amid an escalation in the protests against the government.

It was not immediately clear if Wednesday's security crackdown involved Saudi troops.

Syed Al Alawi, a witness, told Al Jazeera that troops were surrounding the Salmania hospital and not allowing doctors and nurses to enter.

Calling for help, Alawi said: "The GCC troops are for fighting against foreign forces, instead they are targeting the people of Bahrain. What's our fault, we are asking for our legitimate rights."

At least 500 protesters have been camping at the Pearl Roundabout in central Manama as part of their demonstration.

And Bahrain's youth movement has called on Wednesday for a mass demonstration at 3.30pm (1230 GMT) from all Manama suburbs.

The small kingdom with a dominant Shia majority has been swept by protests over the last several weeks. The protesters, alleging discrimination and lack of rights, are seeking political reforms.

The arrival of foreign troops followed a request to members of the GCC from Bahrain.

The United Arab Emirates also sent about 500 police to Bahrain, according to Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the Emirati foreign minister. Qatar, meanwhile, did not rule out the possibility of its troops joining the force.

Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al-Thani, the Qatari prime minister and foreign minister, told Al Jazeera: "There are common responsibilities and obligations within the GCC countries.

International concern

The US, which counts both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia among its allies, has called for restraint, but has refrained from saying whether it supports the move to deploy troops.

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, who was speaking in Egypt, said Bahrainis must "take steps now" towards a political resolution of the crisis.

Iran, meanwhile, has warned against "foreign interferences".

"The peaceful demonstrations in Bahrain are among the domestic issues of this country, and creating an atmosphere of fear and using other countries'' military forces to oppress these demands is not the solution," Hossein Amir Abdollahian, an official from the Iranian foreign ministry, was reported by Iran's semi-official Fars news agency as saying.

Bahrain forces attack protesters