Cameron Munter’s Last Interview
Pakistan Has Sovereignty Problems
Diplomatic News Agency
Dr. Shakil Afridi is a hero of Americans and Pakistani people therefore he should not be kept in prison. We Are Fighting Unpopular War in Afghanistan; North West parts of the Pakistan are safe havens for the terrorists and extremists
The outgoing American Ambassador has said, Pakistan is faced with sovereignty problems because some parts of the country are not under the control of government and who attack you people and who attack the neighbouring countries. Such elements need to be brought to justice. This he said while giving an interview to a private TV channel on Monday July 23, 2012. It was Mr. Munter’s last interview as US ambassador to Pakistan.
The US ambassador further said, the North West parts of the country are in fact safe havens for the terrorists and extremists who are challenging the writ of the Pakistan government. He categorically stated Pakistan government was not aware of the Osama operation. To a question whether he knew about the operation or not, the ambassador did not give a clear cut answer.
He said the biggest issue between Pakistan and US is trust. We have to overcome this trust deficit between the two countries. And I think we can overcome this trust issue because there is a will on both sides. The US Ambassador said, Dr. Shakil Afridi is a hero of Americans and Pakistani people therefore he should not be kept in prison. He dispelled the impression as if the House of Representatives’ move to block Pakistan aid bill were a blackmailing tactic adding there was no decision yet on the bill.
“Dr. Shail Afridi has done a great service to America and Pakistan as well therefore I hope he will be out of prison very soon”. Mr. Munter said the US believes in a true democratic Pakistan though it has its shortcomings as well. “It is not true that the US always supports military however we believe every country needs to have a strong army. We have always advocated strengthening of the institutions including media in Pakistan and I am glad to know that media here is doing quite well”. Dr. Afridi was loyal to the principles and it is terrible to see a man behind the bars who had worked for the upholding of principles, Mr. Munter added.
Regarding a question about NATO supplies, Mr. Munter said, those seven moths period was period of lost opportunities. It was the time when we needed to talk to each other on issues of economy and bilateral cooperation. “I do not think it was a failure on my part that I could not stop drone strikes. What I tried was to continue candid discussion on counter terrorism in all its manifestations. The opening of Ground Communication Line (NATO supply line) will help contribute towards a continued discussion on how to deal with terrorism issues. I am optimists both the US and Pakistan will continue to cooperate with each other even in the coming days”.
Justifying the drone attacks, Cameron Munter said, we are conscious about the sovereignty of Pakistan and we want to help Pakistan protect its sovereignty. Drone strikes are targeted against those who are challenging the writ of Pakistan government.
“I am a big fan of cultivating social relations rather than state-to-state relations. You can see the US officials frequently meeting with your political and military leadership. I think we need to make sure better links between our universities; our media and our institutions. There are some Americans who think Pakistan may not be a safe place to visit; likewise some Pakistanis may have reservations about relations with the US, so we need to work collectively to defuse such misunderstandings and that is what we discussed when Sherry and I met recently.
When asked to comment on his reported report about Imran Khan that he will win the next elections Ambassador Munter outright rejected the report saying the writers of the report must have contacted him for correct position. “I like talking with Imran Khan and I like talking with Nawaz Sharif. These are the people who I believe want to be friends of United States. “You have a lot of people in Pakistan who are shrewd, smart and who love Pakistan. Even I was impressed by Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman whom I found an impressive guy”.
About a question about Afghanistan, he said we know we are fighting an unpopular war in Afghanistan and we are trying to limit military presence in Afghanistan. We hope by 2014 we shall be able to pull out from Afghanistan. “I do not think we plan to leave Afghanistan for good. We plan to bring democracy to Afghanistan and we will be present there in different forms. We will continue to help Afghan people in terms of economic support. Our focus shall be on development of Afghanistan and people of Afghanistan”.
Regarding talks with Taliban he said, any one who wants to break away from Al Qaeda we are ready for talks with them. I think the Pakistan government has the same view point. “We all want peaceful and stable Afghanistan and we have to work collectively to achieve that end”.
Mr. Munter did not answer the question whether Pakistan should be a nuclear state or not, however he said America wants a strong and stable Pakistan. The host asked this question for three times and every time Ambassador Munter came up with same answer, “we want strong and stable Pakistan’.
“I will be retiring from diplomacy and I would be taking up the teaching profession. If I come back, I will not come back as ambassador, but I hope to take part in supporting the Pakistan society to open up further”.
To a question about clash of civilization he said, “I don’t think that is the case. I find enormous affinity between Pakistan and the United States not because they are pro or anti American but because they have a natural instinct to get along with each other. I think we have to expand ambit of our exchange programs so that more and more Pakistani people can to America”.
Talking about Altfa Hussain’s video statement in which he had said, US naval ships have entered Pakistani waters, the outgoing ambassador said, “I cannot speak on behalf of Altaf Hussain so the right person to ask this question is Altaf Hussain himself”.
When asked to share things which he will miss after his departure from Pakistan, the ambassador said, he would miss many things including very good Pakistani friends.” Then, he would miss Biryani as well. Though my wife is an excellent cook, I don’t think she will be able to cook typical Pakistani Biryani.
When asked to give his last message to the Pakistani people, the ambassador said, “The message is this that Pakistan needs to have confidence in itself; it can repair its democratic system and it should not expect others to do this. What we can do is to help Pakistani leadership and Pakistani people to achieve these objectives. Pakistanis are great people gifted with huge potential so the only thing is that we need to exploit that potential. I can see a bright future for Pakistan and people of Pakistan’. Courtesy Diplomatic News Agency (DNA)