PESHAWAR - US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter said on Tuesday that Pakistan should not look to the US government and instead solve its problems on its own.

Munter said there is a saying that God helps those who help themselves. Pakistan he said should strive to stand on its own feet rather than looking towards Americans. He however said the US would continue its support in terms of expertise and aid under a firm commitment, but added that Pakistan must show leadership to overcome its problems.

The US ambassador said this during his visit to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KPCCI). He said the US has provided Pakistan $2billion for assistance since 2009 which is much higher than the other countries. But, it did not seem to have benefited the people.

About the future relationship between the two countries following the Salala incident, he said the US would wait for conclusion of parliamentary debate over Pak-US ties and would respond openly and honestly. “US respects the recommendations of the Pakistan’s Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) on the issue of restoration of Nato supplies and relation with the US.“

Munter said that his government had already expressed regret and sorrow over Salala incident, in which 24 Pakistani security forces personnel were killed, adding Pakistan and US need to work together to prevent recurrence of such incidents. He continued that attack on Salala was unintentional and unfortunate.

Talking about war on terror, he said Pakistan paid a heavy price in the war on terror as over 30,000 citizens and 3000 security personnel have been killed. Especially, the people of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had sacrificed a lot, he added, and acknowledged that KP and Fata had paid huge economic and infrastructure losses in the war against terrorism.

About economic condition of KP, the ambassador said that US was committed to extend any possible assistance to revitalise economic activities and businesses in the region. “We want rebuilding and revival of different sectors in the KP and Fata“.

About the Reconstruction Opportunities Zone (RoZ), he informed that the plan has yet to be passed by the US Congress. But “we should not wait for that legislation; Pakistan should show leadership and resolve its problem accordingly. If there is need the US will certainly assist”, he explained.

Munter said that Pakistan and the US should work together to boost commercial and social links. He said his government was helping Pakistan in various sectors particularly hydroelectricity, dams, flood control, health and education.

Munter said the impression that US doesn’t respect Pakistan was totally wrong. He said the US highly value its relations with Pakistan and wants to be its partners in various fields. Despite the security implications, he said that the region has much importance in context of trade linkages and bilateral economic relations. Pakistan should adopt regional approaches to improve trade ties and access to EU with rest of the world, he added.

Munter said that US wanted more trade engagement with Pakistan, but there was need to bring reforms and certain legislation for creation of favourable climate for investment in the region. He said, “We want to have good relations with Pakistani government, business community, common people and other members of society.”

About Free Trade Agreement between US and Pakistan, he said that it was quite difficult to have any such accord between two countries, as it required some sort of partnership and relation to sign FTA.

Welcoming the ambassador, KPCCI President Afan Aziz said Pakistan and US have long stood by each other through history. Aziz said both countries were part of Afghan resistance against Russian invading forces. He said being the frontier province of the frontline state, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa suffered the most in the ongoing Afghan war. Unfortunately the compensatory effort has not been enough to tackle the decline in our society and infrastructure, he regretted.

KPCCI President lauded the role of USAID in development activity. He said the ring road project was a right step but was going slow. Aziz requested the US ambassador to assist in hydroelectricity projects which were need of hour as these generate massive employment opportunities. He said Pakistan should solve its problems on its own and pull itself out of existing crisis.

He said Salala incident should not recur. He underlined the need that both countries should work together for solution to their problems. He hoped Munter’s visit would prove to be a success and lead to an improvement in Pak-US ties. Aziz also briefed Munter on chamber’s history.