Islamabad/Washington: The release of Raymond Davis, an American who killed two men in Lahore, was based on a clandestine deal struck between Pakistan's spy agency ISI and the American CIA as the US strongly denied paying any "blood money" to the family of the dead.
A petition was filed in the Lahore High Court Thursday challenging the release of Davis, who was let off Wednesday after $2.3 million was allegedly paid as compensation to the kin of the two people he had shot in January.
Blood money or "diyat" is a provision under Islamic Sharia law in which compensation can be paid to relatives of those killed to secure a pardon.
Family members of the slain men had appeared in court and pardoned Davis after an agreement was reached between the two sides.
A US Air Force plane carrying 12 men, reportedly including Davis, took off from Lahore airport for Afghanistan on Wednesday.
Davis, 36, shot dead two Pakistanis on a motorcycle in Lahore on January 27 in what he described as an attempted armed robbery. He claimed he acted in self-defence.
The Dawn said Davis's release "was preceded by a lot of give and take between the two countries, particularly their security agencies".
"Therefore, it was understood that resolution of the Davis saga hinged on a deal between ISI and CIA as to how the two inter-dependent spy agencies agreed to carry forward their relationship," it said.
The release came only a day after it was reported that the ISI and the CIA were nearing a settlement and had resolved their differences.
Rweportedly, the negotiations began at a secluded luxury beach resort in Oman last month between Pakistan Army Chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and the American military top brass.
A petition filed Thursday by barrister Iqbal Jafri in the Lahore High Court said that the families of the two dead Pakistani nationals - Faizan and Faheem - were pressurised by the government into pardoning Davis, Dawn News reported.
The petition said Davis' pardoning and immediate release was in violation of the law, and requested the court to invalidate the decision and direct the authorities to initiate proceedings against those who brought about his release.
There were several protests across the country Thursday, and emotional outbursts by people on television, accusing the government, military and intelligence services of having bartered national interest and indulging in a secret sell-out.
In Multan, lawyers of the district and high courts boycotted court proceedings, while activists of the Jamat-e-Islami staged demonstrations, Geo News said.
Protesters chanted slogans against Davis and burnt tyres in Laki Marwat, Dera Ghazi Khan, Muzaffarghar, Charsada, and cities in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
The US, however, denied paying "blood money" to win Davis' release.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claimed in an interview with the National Public Radio (NPR) that "the United States did not pay any compensation".
"The families of the victims of the incident on January 27th decided to pardon Davis. And we are very grateful for their decision," she said.
White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters that he had no "information that would corroborate" that the US paid the families of the men who were killed.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner also declined to discuss the details of his release. "We did not pay compensation to the victims' families. But beyond that, you'll have to ask the families".
Scott Stewart of strategic think tank Stratfor, however, said: "The way that this case has been resolved through this blood money process, is a resolution that is less likely to inflame public sentiment than if Davis had been released due to the fact that he had been found to have diplomatic immunity."
"The radical parties, the people like the Pakistani Taliban who all along have been calling for Davis' death are sure to attempt to agitate things," he said.