The U.S. claims that ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter resigned on Monday as the result of a “personal decision”, despite rumors swirling to the contrary.
State Department spokesperson Mark Toner told reporters at Tuesday's press briefing that Munter’s two-year tenure was a “perfectly normal period” for a U.S. envoy to Islamabad.
Toner also indicated that upon hearing the news Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised Munter’s efforts and said she “understood his decision.”
One U.S. official emphasized that Munter was “not being sacked”, according to AFP:
“He maintains good relations with both the government of Pakistan and the US government. It's his decision alone. There's no dissatisfaction with his performance from Pakistan or Washington.”
However, considering Munter took the assignment in October 2011, a summer departure would mean his term would end just shy of two years, leaving some skeptics wondering.
In addition, according to CBS News, unnamed officials from Pakistan's foreign ministry said Munster’s abrupt announcement caught them by surprise.
Experts are speculating that Richard Olson, a senior official at the U.S. embassy in Kabul, will likely succeed Munter.
Munter is exiting the position just as U.S.-Pakistani relations have hit an all-time low. The U.S. is furious at Pakistan for its reluctance to eliminate terrorist sanctuaries. Pakistan, for its part, has shut down NATO supply lines until it gets an apology for coalition airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers at the end of November.
Michael Hughes attends and covers the State Department’s Daily Press Briefing.