The first sermon that Pakistanis received from the new US ambassador, as expected, was about the implications of rampant corruption in the country. It was immediately not made clear as to who was the possible audience of this sermon but it made one thing amply clear; uncle Sam’s envoy are bold (read: un-diplomatic) in and well-versed about the country of their posting, particularly when it comes to Pakistan. According to a report in the Sify News, the new US ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter, said Monday the country will not be able to attract foreign investment unless and until it is able to check corruption.
While addressing industry representatives at Karachi Stock Exchange, he said: ‘Corruption in government sector can deter foreign investors and their confidence should be restored to attract maximum investment in Pakistan. Corruption in public institutions has caused a loss of over $300 billion and these institutions suffering from bad financial health need to be privatized,’ he suggested.
‘The rich and the privileged will also have to pay taxes if the financial constraints need to be overcome,’ Munter remarked adding that the ‘levying of the proposed reformed general sales tax (GST) will also broaden the tax net and increase revenue collection’. The US envoy also pointed out that several joint initiatives for energy production with the help of US firms were awaiting Pakistan government’s approval. ‘These include a project worth $375 million for producing 150 MW of electricity,’ he said.
Pakistan is facing economic problem after devastation caused by floods and terrorism across the country. The US administration is one of the major foreign donors working with the Pakistani government to avert this crisis in energy, trade and other sectors. The relationship between the United States and Pakistan is “spicy”, US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter has said.
The ambassador was in Pakistan’s cultural capital a day before where he after a hearty spicy breakfast he said: “Pakistan-US relations are spicy. No doubt traditional Pakistani food is world famous.” Talking to the media on Sunday after enjoying a traditional Lahori breakfast at a local restaurant along with his wife Dr Merilyn Wyatt and US Consul-General in Lahore Carmila Conroy, Munter said: “Pakistani people are spicy as well as sweet, very much like the Lahori food.”
The US envoy, who also relished ‘halwa-puri’ and ‘lassi’, said Lahori food was among the best food items across the world. “Being a Californian, I prefer spicy food and I have great relish for Pakistani spicy food,” he added. Talking about the recent WikiLeaks releases, Munter said they would not affect the strong Pakistan-US ties. “The United States-Pakistan relationship is strong. Pakistan’s government leaders talk to me openly and honestly and I speak with them in the same manner,” said Ambassador Munter, adding, “We continue to work very closely with the Pakistani Government.”