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Many Pakistanis already regard the U.S. with suspicion or enmity because of its occupation of neighboring Afghanistan and regular missile attacks against militant targets in Pakistan’s northwest. Islamist and rightwing opponents of Washington and the U.S.-allied government here have said the recent shooting was a further example of American brutality.

The U.S. has said Mr. Davis was a member of the embassy’s technical and administrative staff but has not clearly identified his job or explained why he was carrying a gun. The lack of clarity has fueled media speculation that he may be a CIA agent or security contractor and raised questions about whether he qualified for diplomatic immunity.

Washington has made strengthening ties with Pakistan a top priority and is committed to giving it $7.5 billion dollars in civilian aid, one of its largest programs anywhere in the world. It wants to secure the country’s help in stabilizing Afghanistan by attacking militant sanctuaries on its side of the border.

But the relationship between the two countries has often been strained by Pakistan’s reluctance to carry out operations against key Afghan militants demanded by the U.S.

Meanwhile, a government prosecutor assigned to assist the court said he has resigned in protest after his department withdrew him from the case.

Rana Bakhtiar Ahmad had given public statements arguing that the U.S. official did not enjoy diplomatic immunity. “I have resigned though I was not under pressure to do so,” he said.