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Pakistani army officials in awe of “everything Chinese” : US student at Pak Defence Academy

Many senior Pakistani military officers seemed out of touch with Western reality and are steeped in myths — particularly anti-American ones — while being in awe of the Chinese, according to the experiences of a US Army Colonel who was studying there.

Colonel Michael Schleicher, who was attending a senior level course at Pakistan’s prestigious National Defense University, was alarmed by some of the closely-held beliefs of his Pakistani class-mates, many of whom were senior officers in the Pakistani army and aged in their 40s and 50s.

“Course instructors often had misperceptions about U.S. policies and culture and infused their lectures with these suspicions. For example, one guest lecturer–who is a Pakistani one-star general–claimed the U.S. National Security Agency actively trains correspondents for media organizations…

“..some did not believe the U.S. used female pilots overseas; they were convinced female pilots were restricted to flying within U.S. borders. Others thought the CIA was in charge of U.S. media (and that MI-5 was in charge of the BBC). Students in the Junior Course shared many of the biases prevalent in the Muslim world, including a belief the U.S. invaded Iraq for its oil and that 9/11 was a staged ‘Jewish conspiracy,'” he said in a cable released by Wikileaks.

The December 2008 cable also showed that the US was fast losing its ally to China. “In contrast to criticism of the U.S., students and instructors were adamant in their approval of all things Chinese,” Schleicher pointed out.

He also detailed the education given to senior Pakistani Army officials, pointing out that the non-economic teachings (nearly two thirds of the curriculum) could not be termed as secular as they were based on or influenced by the Islamic religion.

“Students are ‘taught’ why Pakistan was created [as a homeland for the devout among India’s Muslims] and “how this legacy should impact the country’s future policies,” the Colonel went on. He pointed out that only 2 of the 110 Pakistani colonels and brigadiers who comprised the Pakistani contingent in his class openly drank alcohol and nearly two-thirds were highly or moderately religious.

The elite of this crop of colonels and brigadiers are receiving biased NDU training with no chance to hear alternative views of the U.S. Given the bias of the instructors, we also believe it would be beneficial to initiate an exchange program for instructors.

Adding her own note to the account, Pakistani ambassador Anne Patterson urged the US government to target the “lost generation” of Pakistani military officials and disabuse them of their anti-American myths.

“The elite of this crop of colonels and brigadiers are receiving biased NDU training with no chance to hear alternative views of the U.S. Given the bias of the instructors, we also believe it would be beneficial to initiate an exchange program for instructors,” he pointed out in the footnote to the cable.

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