03 September, 2014 / Ziqa'ad 7, 1435

Washington's former envoy to Islamabad Cameron Munter. — File Photo by Reuters

WASHINGTON: In Pakistan, the United States was dealing with a government that was not always able to deliver, said a former US ambassador, Cameron Munter.

In an interview to CNN, Mr Munter also urged the US administration to consider how their policies would affect the people in Pakistan while making policies for that country.

Mr Munter is believed to have left his job because of differences with the Obama administration over its policies towards Islamabad, particularly its decision to increase drone attacks on targets in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).

While responding to a question about a $7.5 billion US aid package for Pakistan, the former envoy conceded that the programme did not achieve its targets. “We didn’t get everything done that we wanted to and we should look hard at our systems programme to see where we may have failed,” he said.

“But I think in Pakistan, we also ran into a government that wasn’t always able to deliver.”

Polls show that only eight per cent of Pakistanis view the US as a partner, while 74 per cent view it as an enemy.

“I think it’s very important to look at these numbers and remember that what we’re talking about is a picture the Pakistanis have of us, that they see, in terms of our security policy,” Mr Munter said. “There’s a part of America that the Pakistanis respect very much: our education, our business acumen, our openness and cultural side.”

The US does enjoy good, long-term relationships with Pakistani universities, businesses, and many crucial people-to-people relationships, according to Mr Munter.

He suggested that the US should supplement its counter-terrorism efforts with “the commitment to the Pakistani people and to their future, and to stability”.

“We need to have more balance. We worked on it during my time there. I’ll be honest with you; I think we could have done a lot better. I think the Pakistanis could have done a lot better,” he said.

“I think the team that’s there now is trying to do that, to have more outreach, to have more long-term commitment to Pakistan and the needs they have in addition to what we have in counter-terrorism.”

Mr Munter told the Daily Beast that he used to receive calls from the White House to ‘dial up the pain’, and he would tell the US that Islamabad didn’t respond well to ‘dialling up the pain’.

“Look, when you’re dealing with diplomacy, you’re dealing with the idea of listening as well as talking,” Mr Munter said. “A diplomat will want to make sure that in addition to telling America’s story that we’re listening to the other person’s perception so we can come to some sort of agreement.”

The former ambassador said that before the raid on the Abbottabad complex where Osama bin Laden lived and died, his main concern was for the American community overseas.

“We didn’t know what the response would be. I spent a lot of time talking with our team about how we would take care of the people in the embassy and the Americans overseas.”

Did he suspect that the Pakistani government and military would be so enraged? “We didn’t really know what to think,” Mr Munter told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

He noted that in 1979, the US embassy in Islamabad was overrun and burned. “You never want to see something like that happen and you want to make sure that you have everything in place in case it does,” he said.

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Comments (12) (Closed)

Cyrus Howell
Feb 24, 2013 04:43am
"Focus on Pakistani nation, not just terror fight, Munter tells US government." . Good Advice. The US should fund civic projects independently, rather than giving the Islamabad government cash that falls down the rabbit hole..
Feb 24, 2013 09:29am
he is right...They dont have a clue!!....they never do, starting from their high schools
Feb 25, 2013 04:38am
America is too late to have good impression on Pakistanis.Now we must be wholeheartdly in Chinese block to counter india.Who wants to break away Baluchistan.
Muhammad Tariq Iqbal
Feb 24, 2013 02:05pm
well i am sure you have the best of intentions in saying what ou have said let me tell you this THERE ARE SCOUNDRELS EVERY WHERE the money the us givs to NGOS or other people does not reach the people THE US SHOULD NOT GIVE PAKISTAN A PENNY IN THIS FORM.they should invest in projects through the government and devise checks and balances .they should help the people directly by giving scholarships to students give quotas to pakistani businesses and remove the hurdles in trade IF INDEED THEY ARE OUR FRIENDS but they will never do it all they want is a begging country they can use for there ends whenever the need arrives...
Feb 24, 2013 09:18pm
Proud people tend to stand on their own feet, even when they have very little. Pakistan on the one hand professes to be a proud nation yet on the other, it has habitually relied on the begging bowl through out its short history. Truth is bitter but it has got to be faced.
Feb 24, 2013 02:15pm
"Focus on Pakistani nation, ......." This advice should be more for Pakistani leaders than America. When Pakistanis start focusing on building Pakistan, then the US and the rest of the world would take interest in the same also. Expecting others to do our job in unrealistic
Feb 24, 2013 01:21pm
The innocents killed in drone attacks were much much higher compared to US enemies.
Feb 24, 2013 06:17am
Americans do what they do it,s nothing new for Pakistan after all Pakistan lost Billions to help the Americans to fight terrorism in the end Pakistan is going to get sanction for buying Iranian gas . This is what you get to help America and Pakistan deserve that .
Adnan A
Feb 24, 2013 02:56am
This tells you that even Munter could see that so called democratically elected govt. is not doing things for democracy, it is just pocketing things in name of democracy.
Feb 24, 2013 09:12am
A diplomat has well represented Pakistani nation and their views.... he sounds very human
Ram Lakhani
Feb 24, 2013 03:14am
This is the beauty of US...one can speak what he thinks We should deal as partner and assist. Drone attacks helped a lot. No doubt many loss of life but more miscreants dead. Tell them....No foe or Friend....just a partner in business....count aid accordingly...what we helped...in lives and money and what we lost or gained...They will understand,hopefully.
shabbir kazmi
Feb 24, 2013 03:58am
If I am told to focus on Pakistan, the first choice will be to pull Pakistan out of 'proxy US war in Afghanistan'. Over a decade of Nato occupancy, killing of hundred of soldiers and thousands of Afghans has brought one thins destruction in Afghanistan and Pakistan.