Washington, Nov 25 : The Pak-US alliance on war on terror was being hurt because of differences in the countries militaries, two senior US military officials have said. They said that the US-led war on terror was facing challenges because Pakistan's young military officers didn't have the same relationship with their US counterparts that their predecessors had.
Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said a top priority for the Pentagon is healing the longtime rift between the two militaries, which he said has deprived both nations of the trust needed to combat extremism. "We don't know each other well enough, and us participating with them in their country is equally as important as them participating with us in our country," the Washington Times quoted him as saying.
Agreeing to Mullen's remarks, US Army Maj. Gen. John M. Custer, the commander of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center at Fort Huachuca, Ariz, said that US forces were "dealing with guys who don't have any exposure to us."
"The older military leaders love us, they understand American culture, and they know we are not the enemy, but they are aging out of the force," he said.
Both the officers were of the view that tensions with Pakistan's Army go back long before the emergence of the Taliban and al Qaeda.
Disagreement with the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the perception that U.S. policy in South Asia tilts in favor of India have exacerbated the problems. The U.S.-led war against extremists in Afghanistan is also controversial because many younger Pakistani officers appear to sympathize with Islamic fundamentalists.
The general consensus among many Pakistani citizens is that the US abandoned Pakistan when "we were no longer useful after the Cold War", said an unidentified senior Pakistani official. The distrust between the two allies goes back to the Pressler Amendment. The US abandoned Pakistan, and that mutual distrust didn't allow and still in many ways does not allow both parties to find a common strategy to defeat terrorism," the Pakistani official added.
"There's not a Pakistani junior officer that doesn't know who former Senator Pressler is, and there's not a junior officer in the U.S. military that knows who Senator Pressler is," Adm. Mullen said, while referring to 1985 legislation sponsored by former Sen. Larry Pressler, South Dakota Republican, which banned most economic and military aid to Pakistan unless the US president certified on an annual basis.
US and Pakistani military exchanges virtually came to a halt during the 1990s, depriving those who are now mid-level officers in Pakistan's military of familiarity with the United States. Many of these officers still harbor deep resentment toward the US. Younger military personnel are influenced by their superiors and may be reluctant to cooperate with the US military.