Justifying Washington’s support for bringing the Taliban into the peace talks, US Ambassador Cameron Munter said that the Afghanistan situation could not be solved by keeping Afghans out of talks.
Talking to media at the second annual dinner of the American Business Forum (ABF) at Royal Palm Golf and Country Club on Saturday, Ambassador Munter said that Afghanistan’s issues could be resolved only by the Afghan leadership – and the US and Pakistan were only supporting them in the effort to get out of the ongoing crisis.
To a question about the non-implementation of promised Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs) in the tribal areas, the ambassador said, “I admit this is a failure.” He said that though there was a misconception between Pakistan and US, it can be overcome through negotiations, people-to-people contacts and enhancing economic ties. He said that many senior Americans are coming to Pakistan for re-engagement on the economic and security fronts.
On Hafiz Saeed, Ambassador Munter clarified that the US had not announced a bounty for the Lashkar-e-Taiba chief, but had, under the Right to Justice programme, offered rewards for information leading to the capture of anyone involved in terror activities and those on the United Nations’ list of declared terrorists. He also said that Hafiz Saeed was a probable suspect of the Mumbai terror attack.
On this note, the ambassador said that, though the Pakistani media was doing a “wonderful” job, it had, in this case, misreported the facts.
Earlier, addressing the gathering as chief guest of the ceremony, the ambassador said that US is firmly committed to its partnership with Pakistan – a relationship that, he said, is built on a foundation of mutual interests, respect and trust. An important element of that relationship is trade, rather than aid, he added.
An MoU was also signed for collaboration between USAID and ABF.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 29th, 2012.
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