US is 'demanding and intrusive' because it's Pakistan's largest donor: Munter

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Islamabad, Jan 8 (ANI): US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter has justified Washington's meddling in Islamabad's 'financial and governance' matters, pointing out that the US is its largest aid provider.

"We appear to be intrusive because we care, we are the largest donor. Our aid comes as outright grant of assistance which is different from loans," the Dawn quoted Munter, as saying in a lecture at a local think tank, the 'Islamabad Programme in Global Studies'.

"Yes we are demanding," he acknowledged, and quickly went on to add that although Washington might have been 'bluntly' saying what it believed needed to be done, but it came with 'a measure of respect'.

While US interference is an open secret and diplomatic cables recently released by WikiLeaks laid bare the extent of American involvement in Pakistan's domestic affairs, Munter's candid talk took many by surprise because they least expected the envoy to be publicly saying so, the report said.

And if one was to go by Munter's words, 'the openness' showed the depth of relationship between both countries marked by periods of cooperation and discord, the report added.

The envoy also made it clear that Washington would not be changing its approach, saying: "We'll continue to be this way" in defence of human rights, including equality, rights of women, fairness and justice.

According to the report, the only reassuring words Munter had were that the Americans would strive to work 'openly and clearly' to avoid the risk of being misunderstood.

Besides, he said, everything would be done "to respect and understand Pakistani traditions, culture and its legal and constitutional history".

He reiterated the demands that American leaders and diplomats have been making to Pakistan over the past year, including broadening the tax base, improving revenue generation, flushing out terrorism and extremism and expelling international terrorists.

Expanding the tax base was crucial for Pakistan's long-term development needs, and would more importantly signal to its donors that international assistance was being used for right purposes and "not covering the Pakistani citizens who don't pay their share", Munter said.

The US was encouraging the Pakistan Government to put in place prudent economic and regulatory policies, said the envoy, and he also cautioned the government against protecting the interests of 'few', which he said was 'happening too much here'.

The US has been long pressurising Pakistan to undertake tough economic reforms, but political instability has been stalling the process, as some government allies as well as opposition parties believe that the move could crush the middle and lower classes that are already financially overburdened.

The US ambassador also said that making peace with India was in Pakistan's national security interest.

Delhi and Islamabad would have to work together to address longstanding contentious issues, said Munter, adding that Washington could play a supportive role in taking this relationship forward. (ANI)

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