Tikka diplomacy – Munter plays the PR game


LAHORE: American Ambassador Cameron Munter ventured out on Sunday for a breakfast at an eatery in the cantonment area. The press was briefed beforehand of the Ambassador’s morning adventure. So it was perhaps for damage control after the diplomatic chaos unleashed by the Wikileaks that Munter took to sipping from a glass of lassi during his trip to Lahore. Munter, accompanied by his wife and other US Consulate delegates, had breakfast at Zakir Tikka House were he ate halwa poori, pathoray, lassi and chakoray.
Speaking after the breakfast, Munter said he had an admiration for Pakistani food and that spices were what made the food special. That he spoke of spices when he had only sweets was perhaps reflective of the new climate US and Pakistani diplomats find themselves in. Speaking to media, Munter said, “Pak-US relations shall only improve in future and WikiLeaks reports would not affect them.” Stating the obvious he moved on to inaugurate an iRaffles store.
Reflecting on the visit, the people Pakistan Today spoke to termed Cameron Munter’s recent visit to Lahore an attempt to soften America’s image and control damage.
Saeed Khan, a passerby, said Munter was speaking to the Pakistani public and wanted to convey US sincerity. Institute of Communication Studies, University of the Punjab, Public Relations’ teacher Shafiq Ahmad Kamboh told Pakistan Today the visit was a tried-and-tested but very effective propaganda technique called ‘Plain Folks’. The same technique was used by former American president Bush who played cricket upon his arrival in Pakistan.
Kamboh added that mingling with locals is a successful leadership strategy and Americans have mastered the art. “It is a technique that Bhutto used too and to great effect,” he concluded. Media student Rabia Siddiqui said that Americans have effectively employed Public Relation techniques throughout its diplomatic history to restore their image. She said the American head of state is known to dance before the public if they need to improve public relations.
Sameed Akhter, a citizen said,”WikiLeaks have exposed the truth of US designs in the country and it was time to cut off relations with them and not be fooled by their attempts to connect with us.”What affect Munter’s breakfast at Zakir Tikka shall have in future diplomacy shall be answered in the future.