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Mullen says winning Pak military's trust key to war on terror

world Updated: Feb 15, 2009 21:34 IST

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Advocating the need to bridge the trust deficit in America's relationship with Pakistan Army, US' top military officer has said Washington should work to win the confidence of the country's defence forces, whose support was key to winning the war on terror in Afghanistan.

In an opinion published in The Washington Post, US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, argued that it is essential for the US to win the confidence and trust of officials of Pak Army.

Without their support, he observed, the US cannot win the war against terrorism in Afghanistan and the adjoining border areas.

"For my part, I have made it a priority to develop closer ties with the head of the Pakistani military, Gen Ashfaq Kiyani, and other military and civilian leaders," Mullen wrote.

"If I'm in the area, I go to Pakistan. Trust cannot be won over the phone. You build it one person -- and one issue -- at a time," he said.

Mullen said a whole generation of Pakistani military officers either do not know the US, or do not trust it or both. "What they do know is that military aid restrictions went into effect under the Pressler Amendment in 1990. We basically cut them off for 12 years, and in the process cut ourselves off," he said.

As one Pakistani official put it recently, "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," he wrote.

"We are working to turn that around," he said.

He said, already a small contingent of US military experts is assisting in the professional development of Pakistani counterinsurgency trainers.

"Pakistani officers will increasingly be invited to attend our war colleges. And I am hopeful that more US aid and technical assistance may flow to the border regions," Mullen wrote.