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US envoy cancels university visit sensing protests

March 22, 2012


 US Ambassador H.E. Cameron Munter addressing the members of business community in KPCCI during his visit to KPCCI.                  —APP photo by Riaz Anjum

PESHAWAR: The US Ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron P. Munter, faced an embarrassing situation here on Wednesday when he had to cancel his scheduled visit to University of Peshawar owing to protest by Islami Jamiat Talba (IJT).

The ambassador was scheduled to address students at a seminar on ‘Pak-US relations after Salala attack and future prospects’ at the political science department and inaugurate US-funded projects on the campus.

Police said that the ambassador’s engagements were cancelled owing to security reasons and the programme was called off on Tuesday evening because of the unrest among the students.

Mr Munter arrived in the provincial capital on a two-day visit on Tuesday.

The activists of IJT, the students wing of Jamaat-i-Islami, had started agitation on the campus since Tuesday evening against the visit of the ambassador. They staged a demonstration and blocked the main road in the university, chanting anti-US slogans.

Police resorted to baton charge to disperse the protesting students. Six IJT activists were arrested, however, they were released in the afternoon. Jamaat-i-Islami in a statement has condemned the baton charge and arrest of the students.

Besides addressing the seminar, the envoy had to visit Institute of Education and Research and Pashto Academy. The USAID had financed renovation work in the institute and set up digital laboratory and dictionary in the academy.

Police officials blamed university administration for publicising the scheduled visit of the envoy to the campus that provoked students.

The ambassador addressed business community in Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI). In his address, Mr Munter said that Pakistan and the US should work together to boost commercial and social links.

He said that his government was helping Pakistan in various sectors, particularly hydroelectricity, dams, flood control, health and education.

He said that the US had provided Pakistan with $2 billion for assistance since 2009 that was much higher than the assistance by other countries.

Mr Munter said that the impression that the US didn’t respect Pakistan was totally wrong. He said that the US highly valued its relations with Pakistan and wanted to be its partner in various fields.

SCCI president Afan Aziz said on the occasion that Pakistan and the US had long stood by each other through history. He said that both the countries were part of Afghan resistance against the invading forces of Russia.

Mr Aziz said that being a frontline province, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa suffered the most in the ongoing Afghan war. He said that unfortunately the compensatory efforts were not enough to tackle the decline in the society and infrastructure.

The SCCI president lauded the role of USAID in development activities. He said that the ring road project was a right step but it was going slow. He requested the US ambassador to assist them in hydroelectricity projects, which were the need of hour as it would generate employment opportunities.

Mr Aziz said that Pakistan should solve its problems on its own and pull itself out of the existing crises. He said that Salala incident should not be repeated. He said that both the countries should work together for resolving their problems.

APP adds: Ambassador Munter said that Salala incident was a mistake, which, he hoped, would not be repeated in future.

Talking to businessmen during his visit to Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry, he admitted that it was a mistake and must not be repeated in future.

He added that the United States also accorded respect to the recommendations of Parliamentary Committee on National Security that were being discussed in the parliament.

Mr Munter said that Pak-US relations were deep-rooted and there was need to understand that both sides had respect for each other. He said that American investors had keen interest in Pakistan.

“We should launch projects jointly in the fields of energy and agriculture etc,” he said. He added that the US had always supported and assisted Pakistan government in need of hour. “Our response to 2110 flood was very prompt and effective,” he said.

However, he argued that external assistance couldn’t resolve domestic problems and for that people of Pakistan had to stand on their own feet.

The ambassador said that they were ready to continue providing assistance in every sector, but the people of Pakistan had to lead those programmes.

To a query about setting up Reconstructing Opportunity Zones, he said that it took a lot of time owing to some problems in passage of bill in that regard.

However, he added that the US would continue to work in that direction.