Published On: Tue, Feb 19th, 2013

US needs to drop ‘lazy’ thinking about Pakistan

 Munter_2483751bBy Rob Crilly
Cameron Munter’s comments will anger diplomats in Pakistan, coming during a visit to Karachi only seven months after he resigned the post in anger at Washington’s handling of the relationship.

Diplomatic protocol usually means former ambassadors avoid intervening in their former host countries so soon after leaving – particularly one where relations are fraught.

Speaking at the Karachi Literature Festival on Saturday, Mr Munter delivered a withering critique of the US position.

“In America, the image of Pakistan is: We give them all this money, we support them, we try to help them and what do they do? They deceive us,” he said.

The alliance between the two countries has been crucial for tackling al-Qaeda and the Taliban but is based on mutual suspicion, which has frequently descended into open loathing.

Mr Munter warned that relations could not improve while Americans continued to assume they relied on “lazy” assumptions about Pakistan and berated the country for not doing as it was told.

He added that the consensus was Pakistan was “duplicitous, terrible… full of people we go running to, but they don’t do what we say.”

He also criticised the view of many Pakistanis that the US had repeatedly abandoned their country.

“It’s an extraordinary breach of protocol,” said a Western diplomat. “Imagine what the new ambassador [Richard Olson] is thinking.”

A spokesman for the American embassy in Islamabad said Mr Munter’s service was appreciated by the State Department. ” He is a private citizen now and is welcome to reflect on his service,” she said.

Mr Munter left Islamabad last July apparently after a series of clashes with CIA officers over the use of drone strikes.

A colleague later told The New York Times that “he didn’t realise his main job was to kill people”. He endured a series of crises in relations during his two years including the raid to kill Osama bin Laden and a US air strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on the Afghan border.

He was nonetheless well-regarded by many Pakistanis. Insiders said he tried to build a more realistic and nuanced alliance, based on an understanding of what Pakistan could and could not achieve.

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