- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 12, 2012

The U.S. ambassador to Pakistan created a political storm this week when he said that two leading opposition politicians would form a “pro-U.S. government” if either becomes prime minister in next year’s elections.

Ambassador Cameron Munter told the Urdu-language service of the BBC that he met recently with Nawaz Sharif, leader of the center-right Pakistan Muslim League-N, and Imran Khan, head of the center-left Movement for Justice party.

“They assured me that their parties fully support the United States,” he said.

His comments added more tension to the U.S.-Pakistani relations, already strained by U.S. drone attacks on terrorist targets in Pakistan. His words also surprised Mr. Khan, who has been strongly critical of Pakistan’s cooperation with the United States in the war on terrorism.

Mr. Cameron “either misunderstood or misquoted my discussion with him regarding Pak-U.S. relations,” Mr. Khan told Pakistani reporters on Wednesday. “I am not against the United States … but just against their policies on the war on terror.”

He added that “war is not the answer to terrorism.”

Mr. Sharif, a former prime minister who was overthrown in a military coup in 1999, has not issued any comment on his talks with Mr. Munter.

In his BBC interview, Mr. Munter also called on Pakistan to develop “complete control over its territories,” a reference to a lawless northwest border region where Taliban militants launch attacks against NATO troops in Afghanistan.

“It is important that Pakistan’s political and military leadership defeats these terrorists, and we want to help Pakistan with it,” he said.

His interview appeared a week after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton apologized for a U.S. attack on a Pakistani border post in November and Pakistan reopened NATO supply routes it had shut down in protest.


The United States and the Taliban appear to agree on one thing: The Islamist extremists who once crushed Afghanistan with their brutal regime can’t defeat NATO forces and the new Afghan army.

U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker in Kabul expressed doubts of an outbreak of a civil war after the United States withdraws its troops by 2014.

“I tend to consider those unlikely scenarios,” he told the Associated Press on Thursday in the first of several farewell interviews he has granted before retiring later this month.

Mr. Crocker predicted that various tribal or ethnic leaders will get involved in politics instead of embracing the Taliban or other militant group.

Story Continues →