Tag Archives: Ambassador Munter

Ambassador Munter on Capital Talk

Ambassador Cameron Munter spoke to Hamid Mir on Capital Talk on Monday, July 23 in his last major interview before leaving Pakistan to return to his academic career in the US. During the interview, Ambassador Munter left the program with the following message:

Pakistan, I believe, needs to have confidence in itself – and by that it has to believe that it can solve its own problems, that it can elect the right people, that it can repair its democratic system; that these things are possible; that it’s not waiting for other people to do it for them; that Pakistan has the brains and Pakistan has the guts to solve these kinds of issues. When Pakistan does that, the true friends of Pakistan around the world – and America is among them, but we’re not the only ones – Pakistan’s friends around the world are there to support Pakistani leadership.

Ambassador Munter concluded by saying that he is optimistic about the future of Pakistan, noting that “Pakistanis are great people – they simply have to achieve their potential.”

“Saathi”

Diamer Bhasha DamYesterday’s post about the successful Pakistani operation that captured three top al Qaeda figures with the help of American intelligence was meant to highlight how, working together, US and Pakistan are more effective in fighting terrorists than trying working alone. Mosharraf Zaidi, a Pakistani columnist and policy adviser, responded with one word: “Saathi”.

“Saathi” is an Urdu word which means “partners” or “friends.” It also happens to be the name of Pakistan’s most popular brand of condoms. Zaidi’s comment was more than clever wordplay, though – it was a warning that American officials would do well to heed.

There’s a popular saying that the US treats Pakistani like a condom (in more polite recitations, Kleenex is substituted) – use it when you need it, then throw it away. The most commonly cited evidence is America’s withdrawal from engagement with Pakistan after the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan in the 1980s. Pakistan expected the US to continue its policy of looking the other way on their nuclear program and providing aid and assistance to repair damage done during the Afghan war. Instead, in 1990, the US cut aid to Pakistan citing the 1985 Pressler Amendment which required the president to certify that Pakistan did not have a nuclear weapon.

Today, Pakistan is believed to control the world’s fourth largest nuclear arsenal. The Pressler Amendment, for all its intentions, did nothing to prevent this reality. What it did do was convince many Pakistani officials that the US is an unreliable partner. With troop drawdowns in Afghanistan scheduled over the next few years, many Pakistani officials are having a feeling of ‘deja vu all over again.’

American officials including Ambassadors Marc Grossman and Cameron Munter have met with the Pakistani leadership to convey their assurance that past mistakes will not be repeated, and that the US will not abandon Pakistan to fight against militant groups alone. But more can, and should be done to assure Pakistan of American intentions.

One way the US can provide this assurance is through making long term investments in Pakistan’s civilian infrastructure. A recent report in The Guardian (UK), notes that the US is considering providing financial support for the $12 billion Diamer Bhasha dam, which would provide 4,500MW of additional green energy, and go far to solving Pakistan’s crippling energy crisis. Mosharraf Zaidi told The Guardian that this is just the type of project the US should be investing in.

“Diamer Bhasha would be tremendously good for Pakistan and would show that the US is invested in a long-term relationship with Pakistan, no matter how bad things look today.”

Improving Pakistan’s energy capacity is about more than just keeping the lights on. According to the LA Times, Pakistan’s chronic electricity shortages are bleeding the country of economic opportunities. In a nation of 180 million where half the population is under 22 and and a quarter of the population lives below the poverty line, diminishing economic opportunities fuel political frustration and, in turn, instability – something no amount of military aid can fix, but one hydroelectric dam can.

This week’s statement by Pakistan’s military is an olive branch extended, once again, to their American counterparts. It’s an opportunity US officials should be loath to pass up. Significant financial support for the Diamer Bhasha dam would not only go far towards repairing America’s reputation in Pakistan, it would do so the right way – by demonstrating a sincere desire to help Pakistanis improve their own situation. Saathi. Partners, not patrons.

Ambassador Munter Engages Pakistani People, Not Just Leaders

When Ambassador Cameron Munter arrived in Pakistan last fall, he landed in a country suffering the effects of the worst flooding in known history. The floods that submerged approximately twenty percent of Pakistan affected 20 million people, destroying homes, farms, businesses, and basic infrastructure across the country. Where other diplomats might have called for increased aid and issued sympathetic statements from the security of their Embassies, Amb. Munter took off his suit and tie and began to deliver help directly. It was a sign of a new approach to diplomacy, and one that offers a way to repair strained US-Pakistan relations.

Amb. Cameron Munter carrying relief supplies

Amb. Munter has continued to directly engage with the Pakistani people in both good times and bad. After the May operation that killed Osama bin Laden, Amb. Munter appeared on Geo, the nation’s most popular TV channel, to answer questions about what happened, and what it means for US-Pakistan relations.

Amb. Munter’s public outreach did not stop there. A few days later he went to the University of Sindh, Jamshoro Campus where he took questions from students. He did not dodge hard questions, and he gave open and honest answers about the American perspective.

But the American Ambassador has not allowed security issues to overshadow the important work of building closer ties between the American and Pakistani people. Earlier this month, Amb. Munter announced that the US will donate $100,000 to help SOS Village in Quetta build homes to host orphans in the region. Once again, the American diplomat shed his coat and tie, this time to enjoy a game of cricket with local kids.

Amb. Cameron Munter playing cricket with kids in Quetta

Too often, diplomacy occurs between the highest levels of government while the people are left out of the discussion. This creates a breeding ground for confusion, suspicion and doubt. By moving out of his Embassy office and engaging with the Pakistani people directly, Amb. Munter is showing us the way to repair strained US-Pakistan relations – taking the time to get to know each other.

Ambassador Munter Statement on Raymond Davis Confirms DoJ Investigation

The US Embassy in Islamabad released the following statement by Ambassador Cameron Munter today.

Ambassador MunterThe families of the victims of the January 27 incident in Lahore have pardoned Raymond Davis.  I am grateful for their generosity.  I wish to express, once again, my regret for the incident and my sorrow at the suffering it caused.

I can confirm that the United States Department of Justice has opened an investigation into the incident in Lahore.

I wish to express my respect for Pakistan and its people, and my thanks for their commitment to building our relationship, to everyone’s benefit. Most of all, I wish to reaffirm the importance that America places in its relationship with Pakistan, and the commitment of the American people to work with their Pakistani counterparts to move ahead in ways that will benefit us all.

U.S. Ambassador Offers Condolences on the Assassination of the Governor of Punjab

Ambassador Munter“I am deeply saddened by the assassination of Governor Taseer. On behalf of the United States, I offer my condolences to his wife and children,” said U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter. Speaking about the assassination of Punjab Provincial Governor Salman Taseer, Ambassador Munter said, “He had the courage of his convictions and was a champion of tolerance. His death is a great loss to the people of Pakistan.”