NEW YORK-Anger in Pakistan over last week's lethal US air strikes on its soil threatens a joint effort to train a paramilitary force to fight tribal militants, The New York Times reported Wednesday, citing two unnamed Pakistani officials said. In a dispatch from Islamabad, the newspaper said that the Pakistani military is threatening to postpone or cancel the $400million US programme to train the Frontier Corps. It said some Pakistani officials are convinced that the US troops deliberately fired on their military, killing 11 men from the FC the Americans want to train. But, according to The Times, the Americans deny that conclusion. The training programme is intended to combat militancy by fielding the FC, from among the tribes that live in the border areas. Ending or delaying the programme, which is already under way, would deny the US what little leverage it has in the tribal areas to combat a rising number of cross-border attacks from Pakistan into Afghanistan against American and NATO forces this year, the paper said. The US military said that the air strikes had been carried out in self-defence against militants who had attacked American forces in Afghanistan and then fled into Pakistan. But the Pakistanis continue to dispute the American account. 'This is the first time the United States has deliberately targeted cooperating Pakistani forces', Jehangir Karamat, a former chief of the Pakistani Army and a former Ambassador to the United States, was quoted as saying. 'There has been no statement by the United States that this was a 'friendly fire' and that the intention was not to target the Pakistani forces'. 'The recriminations have exposed the underlying mistrust in the alliance, which has been held together in large part by the personal relationship between President Pervez Musharraf and President Bush', The Times said, citing Pakistani officials and diplomats. 'As the two men fade from power, the alliance is finding it difficult to quell the threat to the US, Afghanistan and Pakistan from a growing array of Taliban and Al Qaeda cells that are dug into Pakistan's tribal areas, the paper added. A senior Pak govt official with long experience in military affairs, one of the two Pakistani officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of diplomatic sensitivities, summed up the feeling of many in the Pakistani military, saying the strikes appeared deliberate-despite American denials-and intended to 'punish' Pakistan for not preventing the militants from crossing into Afghanistan. 'Such types of incidents may affect the training programme by the United States for the Frontier Corps', the spokesman for the Pakistani Army, Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said on Monday. In Washington, the Pentagon Press Secretary, Geoff Morrell, expressed regret for the death of the Pakistani soldiers, but did not acknowledge any American culpability pending an investigation by senior Pakistani, Afghan and American officers. The American, Afghan and Pakistani militaries have agreed to hold a joint investigation into the strikes. That inquiry will now have to sort out the conflicting accounts in an extremely charged atmosphere. Pakistan vehemently denies the US claim that the raid was in self-defence, saying the bombs were aimed at a Frontier Corps post at Gora Parai, about 100 miles northwest of the town of Ghalanai. A stone hut and seven of nine bunkers in which the soldiers were seeking cover were destroyed, the Times said, citing Pakistani officials. The coordinates of the post were clearly marked and were known to NATO and US forces, they said. The senior Pakistani govt official with military experience said the strikes were 'too accurate and too intense' to have been an accident. A senior US officer in the region, according to the paper, rejected the Pakistani allegations that American aircraft had deliberately attacked Pakistani soldiers. 'Undoubtedly the lack of recognised border markings, porous terrain where bad guys travel back and forth, known weaknesses of Frontier Corps to control border area and intermingled people, and tight terrain all are variables', the officer said. 'Deliberate retaliation was not a cause'. 'Whatever the case, the fury over the airstrikes was such that Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the new military chief, who the Americans hoped would be a dependable successor to Musharraf, personally approved an unusually strong statement last week from the Pakistani military, which called the strikes 'cowardly and unprovoked', the dispatch said, citing Pakistani officials. General Kayani has refused every suggestion of letting American forces operate in the tribal areas, even on an advisory basis, US officials have said. A plan for US trainers to accompany Pakistani troops on missions to root out insurgents in the tribal areas was ruled out completely, a senior Pakistani military official said. The plan for US military advisers to instruct Pakistani trainers, who would in turn train Frontier Corps units in counter-insurgency tactics, was accepted by General Kayani as a light-footed alternative, US officials have said. 'Even so, there is considerable skepticism in Washington and among US military commanders about the value of the training, and the strains caused by the air strikes have now brought into the open blunt expressions of dissatisfaction with the Pakistanis that officials had kept mostly private', the dispatch said. A major reason for the distrust of the Americans among the Pakistani military came from the belief that Pakistan was unfairly blamed by Washington for the American and NATO difficulties in the war in Afghanistan, it said.