The Yadunandan Center for India Studies at Cal State Long Beach (CSULB) recently hosted former U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter for a lecture titled “U.S. – Pakistan Relations in 2014 and Beyond.”
Munter was a distinguished U.S. Foreign Service Officer for nearly three decades before his retirement in fall 2012 where upon he received the State Department’s Distinguished Service Award from Secretary Hillary Clinton.
Munter served as ambassador to Pakistan from 2010-2012, guiding U.S.-Pakistani relations through a period of severe crisis, including the operation against Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad, the release of CIA agent Raymond Davis from a Pakistani prison, and the latest phase of the Afghan War. In his talk, he discussed his role in these important events and vividly represented the increasing tension and deterioration in U.S.-Pakistani relations during this time.
In hypothesizing about the nature of U.S.-Pakistani relations in the wake of the proposed stand down of U.S. troops in Afghanistan in 2014, Munter was guardedly optimistic. He reminded the audience that support for the Pakistani Taliban was limited to a small percentage of the population, and that influence of sufism in Pakistan was far greater than Islamic fundamentalism. He made the case that a growing middle class and youth population in Pakistan would support—and directly benefit from—the economic and material development that would result from the opening of the Pakistani economy to global investment, particularly from India.
Munter’s talk generated extensive and tough questions from an audience of nearly 300 people concerning Pakistan’s relationship with the United States and India. He argued that while in some instances the use of drones in Pakistan might be questioned, it must also be remembered that the civilian cost of these strikes is still far less than when conventional forces have been used against the Pakistani Taliban as was the case in the military offensives in the Swat Valley in 2009.
In sum, Munter called for greater support for diplomatic and multilateral international solutions—that include India and China—to resolve conflict in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
CSULB’s Yadunandan Center for India Studies was established through the generous gift of the Uka and Nalini Solanki Foundation. The center provides interdisciplinary study and critical analysis of the Indian subcontinent with a mission to improve and enhance the teaching and learning of India in K-12 schools and universities.