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Mistrust harming Pak-US ties: Munter

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January 14, 2019

KARACHI: Mistrust about Pakistan in the US, especially the ties with the Jehadis, is cooling the Pakistan-US ties.

This was stated by former US envoy to Pakistan, and currently the President of the East-West Institute, New York, Cameron Munter, while addressing a seminar on the subject sponsored by the Karachi Council on Foreign Relations at a local hotel on Sunday.

Munter, who was the US ambassador from October 2010 to July 2012, said, “It is in the interest of global peace that the cordiality of yore be restored between the two countries. What we are seeing is a cooling down of ties.”

He said that now was the opportunity to renew our cordiality. He suggested a new approach, one of institutional ties especially as regards culture and education. He said that the most effective recipe was a people-to-people approach that would bring the people of the two countries and hence the two countries closer. He also suggested greater cooperation between the private and banking sectors of the two countries.

“A new factor in the ties is China. All we could do is to hope that there will be a transparent utilisation of Chinese collaboration. Let’s hope that Pakistan’s relations with Iran are back to cordiality. We have to see what Pakistan can give the world that should contribute to global peace,” said Munter.

Talking at length about the US assistance, he said that often it was not very effective. “We paid lots of attention to education in Balochistan but we failed. The controls over money came up. Politics and competency came up." The US, he said, put in money into polio eradication in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, but it was a flop and many health workers were killed by the Jehadis. “The mistake we committed was that the US made the CIA staff confer with the vaccination teams which gave the Jehadis a chance to allege that the US CIA was behind the campaign.”

Now, he said, we should change the focus from Washington-Islamabad aspect to institutional ties. “Peace in the region cannot be ushered in without good Pak-Afghan ties,” he said. “I’d like to see barriers to business relations done away with," he said.

To a question about the Indo-Pak ties, he said, “Prospects for Indo-Pak amity are zero." As for Kashmir, he said that presently there was no sympathy for Pakistan on the Kashmir issue as the general narrative outside Pakistan was that Pakistan was sponsoring terrorism. He suggested the Northern Ireland model for mending the Indo-Pak ties where, he said, the governments of the UK and the Irish Republic did not play as important a part as did the educational institutions, the civil society, and the church and the 30 years of bitter feuding, which claimed so many lives, were successfully brought to an end. The approach has to be an institutional one rather than total dependence on the governments.

He said that “Indo-Pak’ in the US’ jargon was turning into ‘Indo-Paq’, meaning thereby, the quad, Japan, India, Australia, and the US. This, he said, was a new development in the US role in global affairs.

Taking stock of the US role in global affairs, he said that the US had also committed blunders. The greatest blunder, he said, was the US invasion of Iraq. Another mistake, he said, was that the US elected Donald Trump. “Trump works on instincts. He is constantly trying to cut deals. His advocacy of the wall between the US and Mexico is based on purely psychological reasons," he said. “We (the US), admit our mistakes and try to correct them.”

As for CPEC, he exhorted Pakistan to put together the things that Pakistan wants rather than what others want.

Earlier Dr Ms Huma Baqai, Associate Dean, Institute of Business Administration, Karachi University, in her highly erudite and analytical discourse, said, “Pakistan and the US are not allies any more but still Washington remains a very important capital for Pakistan. We have to diagnose the phenomenon and determine as to what the factors that have led to a souring of ties between the two countries are and how both could work together to renew the erstwhile cordiality."

Munter’s speech was followed by a highly animated question-answer session.

Meanwhile, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said relations between Pakistan and the United States were improving fast.

Talking to media persons here at the Alhamra Hall, the minister rejected the statement of Cameron Munter, saying he was not aware of the developments in Washington DC as he had retired long time ago.

"Islamabad and Washington have cordial relations and the recent meetings between Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo strengthened the ties between the two countries," he added. Payments under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF), he said, had been stopped a long time ago.