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'CIA influence in shaping Pak-US ties forced Munter to quit'

Islamabad: The growing influence of the CIA and Pentagon in shaping relations with Pakistan was a key reason behind US Ambassador Cameron Munter's decision to quit his post, the media here claimed today.

Munter, a career diplomat, was apparently "frustrated" that the CIA and Pentagon were not on the same page as the US State Department as far as policy on Pakistan is concerned, The News daily quoted its sources as saying.

US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter. Reuters

The envoy had also informed Washington that an apology "was in order" after a cross-border NATO air strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last year but his advice was overruled by the Pentagon, the report said.

Pakistan's insistence on an apology for the NATO attack has emerged as a key irritant in moves to reset its relationship with the US after a year of crises that took ties to a new low.

In Washington, the State Department said that Munter's decision to resign is a personal one. "In a staff meeting at the US embassy in Islamabad, (Munter) announced that he had made the personal decision to depart Pakistan this summer. This is at the conclusion of his tenure, I believe, at the end of two years, which is a perfectly normal period for an Ambassador to Pakistan," State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters.

Bilateral relations have not been on an even keel since the beginning of last year, when a CIA contractor shot and killed two men in Lahore. This incident was followed by the unilateral US raid that killed Osama bin Laden and the NATO air strike.

News broke yesterday that Munter had decided to step down this summer from the post he had assumed almost 18 months.

PTI

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