Former US ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter on Wednesday said Pakistan was unaware al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden was residing in Abbottabad but the incident deepened mistrust between Islamabad and Washington.
“Those who claimed that Pakistan knew about the whereabouts of bin Laden were wrong,” said Munter, who is currently president of East-West Institute, a non government organisation working for conflict resolution, while speaking at a dinner hosted by chairman Pathfinder Group in honour of former army chief General Raheel Sharif.
In 2011, the US raided a compound near a military academy in Abbottabad to hunt down the al Qaeda leader who had been accused of masterminding the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The former envoy said that the killing of the al Qaeda leader inside Pakistan further deepened mistrust between both the countries. “Terrible mistakes were made due to deep mistrust,” he added.
He said Pak-US relations were greatly affected by ‘two myths’. The Pakistan myth is that Americans used Pakistan when it needed and abandoned it afterwards while the US myth was that Pakistan would not be a reliable partner despite getting billions of dollars in aid, both military and civilian.
The problem is that there was little truth in both of these myths and that deepened the mistrust, he added.
Munter said that during his assignment in Pakistan they tried to build long-term relations but incidents like the killing of OBL and an attack on Salala post at the Afghan-Pakistan border in which about two dozen Pakistani soldiers were killed made matters worse.
It took the US seven long months to apologise, which further deepened the mistrust, he added .
The former envoy, however, struck a positive note and said that during the past three years, relations between the US and Pakistan have significantly improved. He said that in order to build trust we have to be patient.
He said there was a realisation in the US that it was out of sync and will have to do something to put things in order. The former ambassador said that this approach became the base of giving $1.5 billion in civilian aid to Pakistan under Kerry Lugar Act of 2009.
Munter praised former military chief Raheel Sharif, saying the “General showed a style of openness to achieve goals.”