KARACHI: The US ambassador to Pakistan had expressed concern about the distance between Pakistan military officials and the Americans that had crept in following the discontinuation of the IMET (International Military Education and Training) programmes during the "sanction years" and had recommended specifically targeting the generation that was lost during this period, internal US documents have revealed.
The comments are part of a confidential cable by then Ambassador Anne Patterson in 2008. A year earlier, Ms Patterson notes, she had given an address at the National Defence University and "received astonishingly naive and biased questions about America."
The cable added that Ms Patterson had been working to dramatically increase IMET opportunities for officers and NCOs (Non-Commissioned officers). "We need, in particular, to target the 'lost generation' of Pakistan military who missed IMET opportunities during the sanctions years," Ms Patterson wrote. The reference to the 'sanctions years' appears to be to the period following the Pressler sanctions in October 1990 and further tightened after the 1998 nuclear tests.
"The elite of this crop of colonels and brigadiers are receiving biased NDU training with no chance to hear alternative views of the US. Given the bias of the instructors, we also believe it would be beneficial to initiate an exchange program for instructors," the ambassador noted. Ms Patterson also considered the Pakistani military officials attending a senior course at the NDU to be 'naïve' and biased against America.
The cable primarily documents the account of a US army officer, Col Michael Schleicher, who attended a course at NDU. The comments by Col Schleicher partly appear to corroborate the views expressed by Ms Patterson, but in many places also evince a great of naivety about Pakistani society and the security apparatus.
"The senior level instructors had misperceptions about US policies and culture and infused their lectures with these suspicions, while the students share these misconceptions with their superiors despite having children who attended universities in the US or London," the cable recorded Col Schleicher as having shared with the embassy's political officer
"One guest lecturer - who is a Pakistani one-star general - claimed the US National Security Agency actively trains correspondents for media organisations. Others thought the CIA was in charge of US media (and that MI-5 was in charge of the BBC). Some [participants] did not believe the US used female pilots overseas; they were convinced female pilots were restricted to flying within US borders."
Students in the junior course, too, shared "many of the biases prevalent in the Muslim world, including a belief the US invaded Iraq for its oil and that 9/11 was a staged 'Jewish conspiracy,'" according to Col Schleicher. In contrast to criticism of the US, students and instructors were adamant in their approval of all things Chinese, the cable adds.
The confidential cable also includes comments by Col Schleicher on the NDU curriculum, his course mates and instructors. The colonel was of the view that the scripts used by the directing staff and guest speakers to provide lectures were usually meticulously vetted in advance.
"Lecturers often 'teach' their students information that is heavily biased against the United States," the cable said and added that throughout the course only a handful of non-Pakistanis were invited to speak as guest lecturers.
Of his professional and personal interactions with the students, Col Schleicher noted: "Of the 135 senior course students, only two openly drank alcohol." The colonel added that he "believed the secular students felt peer pressure to appear more religious than they actually were."
Commenting on the overall atmosphere of the NDU, Col Schleicher is quoted as saying, "The Pakistani military students appeared to come from wealthy families or from military families and were proud they received amenities, including private-quality schools and good health care, as an incentive to stay in the military. Officers at the brigadier rank touted their privileges, including a house, car, and a driver. The NDU students also obtained financial perks, such as a free trip for a pilgrimage that could be taken at the end of the class' official travels."
Cable referenced: WikiLeaks #153436