Underscoring the enhancement of people-to-people contact, former US ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter has urged for a broader approach to fostering long-term ties between Pakistan and the United States.
While addressing a think-thank, the former envoy emphasized the need for Washington and Islamabad to come out of the competing narratives that fault the other for failures in relationship.
Discarding the view that US should adopt a policy of estrangement towards Pakistan, he said that the recent revival of Ground Line of Communication (GLoC) for allied forces offers opportunities to advance the bilateral ties.
He noted, “On the one hand, the opportunity means Pakistan and US can cooperate toward peace and security goals in Afghanistan up to 2014, when the US-led international forces will end combat mission in that country.”
The former ambassador was not sure if the two countries had reached a meeting of the minds on Afghanistan for 2014 goals and expected Afghan issue to get more attention in US policy until that deadline of withdrawal of combat troops.
He, however, indicated in his remarks that the US would see Pakistan independent of Afghanistan and attach more importance to its relationship with Pakistan.
He observed, “We will be able to conceive of our American policy towards Pakistan, I hope, in a way that is broader, has more of a long-term focus, and isn’t trapped by these narratives. We don’t change those narratives, but the question is, can we go around them?”
He also proposed a much greater US emphasis on forging people-to-people contacts, business and educational ties, and public diplomacy.
He was of the , so that the face of America is your neighbor, an engineer who works on a Punjab ditch and not the face of Raymond Davis, the former CIA contractor, who killed two Pakistanis in Lahore in January 2011, and whose actions undermined the ties.
The ambassador noted, “This country has, I believe, more than any other country I have served in 30 years of Foreign Service, latent pro-Americanism. I have never been in a country, where I have felt that strongly”.
Contradicting common perceptions, Munter said great scope for cooperation between the Pakistanis and Americans.