KARACHI: The US’ new pointman in Pakistan is a Californian – and you can see it in his demeanour. Easy speaking, but able to drive a point home, Cameron Munter is no stranger to representing the US in adverse conditions.
His last tour of duty was in the US Embassy in war-torn Baghdad, where he served as Political-Military Minister-Counselor in 2009 and went on to become deputy chief of the mission.
Prior to that, he also served as Ambassador in Belgrade for two years from 2007 to 2009, during which the Embassy was attacked and partially set ablaze in February 2008.
His experience is also relevant to the situation in which he has been posted into. In 2006, Munter led the Provincial Reconstruction Team in the conflict ridden Mosul, Iraq – which means that he can use his expertise in the post-flood effort in Pakistan.
The ambassador also introduced his wife Marilyn Munter, also a diplomat, to the media. She too will be working with the mission, he said. In a lighter vein, he called it a “second honeymoon” given that he had not taken his wife to previous tours.
The lightness aside, the situation in Pakistan will be challenging. And with a background – education and diplomacy-wise – that is mostly in Europe, Munter is going to have his work cut out. His first proper interaction with the press was refreshing. Despite providing the media with a pre-prepared script, the ambassador did not follow it. He spoke extempore.
Amidst challenging times for US-Pak relations, he’s going to need that confidence.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 30th, 2010.